June 8, 2004 – The final transfer of Water Island from the U.S. Department of the Interior to the V.I. government is expected shortly. Two public meetings on the transfer and on results of extensive testing of former defense sites on the island are scheduled for Thursday.
Present for the meetings will be representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has done the testing, and of Interior, the local government and the Water Island Civic Association.
The first is set for 9 a.m. on St. Thomas, at Emerald Beach Resort in Lindbergh Bay.
The second is to take place shortly after 6 p.m. at the Honeymoon Beach Pavilion on Water Island. Ferry service from St. Thomas will be available at the dock by Tickle's Restaurant in Crown Bay at 6 p.m.
"These meetings will enable residents of the V. I. to fully understand the final disposition of Water Island, and the processes that led to this conclusion," Sen. Louis Hill, former St. Thomas-Water Island administrator, said on Tuesday.
Since December 1996, the transfer of Water Island to the territory has been an ongoing process which has included an environmental investigation, testing and analysis at the former munitions tests sites, and completion of the sub-lessees purchase of the residential lots.
Robert Bridgers, Army Corps defense environmental restoration program manager, has overseen the testing at old Fort Segarra on Water Island. He will give a report and explanation of the multi-year process at the meetings.
Water Island occupies about 500 acres, and about 200 of those acres remain to be transferred, according an aide to Hill. Much of that property, known as Sprat Point, is a preserved area set out by Interior Department covenants which may not be developed.
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