The political and economic mess the current government has created over Crown Bay development in Charlotte Amalie must be addressed.
Ten years ago the cruise-ship companies told us we needed a new docking facility at Crown Bay to accommodate the new class of vessel. But our government ignored their notice, just as it ignored the school-accreditation notice. The cruise lines thus came to the table and said, "Get out of the way. We will build it ourselves." They came to our town and divided our government into three: Port Authority over there, West Indies Company (WICO) over there and the governor over there.
Due to a lack of leadership, the simple infrastructure improvement of a cruise-ship dock has become a political and economic disaster.
But there remains a solution to the impasse:
1. The Port Authority should utilize its limited resources to develop St Croix's port facilities and to provide economic stimulus to the big island.
2. WICO should build and operate the Crown Bay cruise-ship docking facility.
3. A passenger terminal should be built with basic tourist amenities –such as a banking facility, food services, a taxi stand, a tourist information facility and a limited number of shops vending cultural items only.
But most important, the surrounding area must be landscaped and developed in a attractive manner to lure tourists and locals alike. Crown Bay could become a Virgin Islands destination that we all use, not just a facility for tourists or a place to locate a few more shops.
The dock and terminal should be financed by WICO.
The end result would be additional docking facilities for St. Thomas to maintain its position with the cruise-ship industry. It would be an attractive port for arriving tourists — not just more shops but a unique arrival facility. This would bring economic growth for small shopkeepers and vendors and reduce traffic congestion, with more ships arriving on the West End.
A unified government approach to the cruise-ship situation, with one agency dealing with the cruise lines, is the way to go. The Government Employees Retirement System mall investment must be protected and Main Street interests must be protected. At the same time, St. Croix cannot be ignored yet once again.
Candidate for Governor
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