Oct. 19, 2004 Five years have passed since then Territorial Court Judge Alphonso Andrews Jr. after denying the V.I. government the right to deed two plots of land in Estate Great Pond to Beal Aerospace ordered the government to develop a public park in the area. Yet no semblance of a park can be seen when driving through Great Pond.
Gov. Charles Turnbull, who had readily supported Beal's plan to put a portion of its world headquarters on St. Croix, was opposed to the idea of the public park and said the government did not have the $1.3 million that was needed to come into compliance with the court order. (See "Turnbull to Boot Judge Andrews from Bench").
Now, although the 25th Legislature in July overrode the governor's veto of a bill that would appropriate $1.5 million to the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department for the development of the park, the money still has not been turned over to the department.
"I have determined that the department has not received the $1.5 million or any notification that the money is being sent to them," Sen. Usie Richards said Tuesday, adding he had spoken to Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson earlier in the day.
Richards sent out a letter to Turnbull, the commissioner of the Finance Department and the director of the Office of Management and Budget inquiring whether they planned to release the funds to Housing, Parks and Recreation. By law, the funds were supposed to have been disbursed to the department by Sept. 30.
"It is my hope that this administration will comply with the law of the V.I. government and the court order," Richards said. "We are prepared to pursue this matter in all forums."
Richards said this issue is dear to him. He served as a member of an advisory board formed to develop the master plan for the park, which was long ago submitted to the executive branch.
"The governor has never submitted anything to the Territorial Court," Richards said, adding that the deadline for submitting the park's plan to the court has long passed.
Turnbull had sought for Andrews to throw out the part about the park's development from the court order, but failed. Andrews was not reinstated as Territorial Court judge after his six-year term expired in 2000. Turnbull appointed Judge Daryl Donahue in his place, Richards said.
Richards said he would continue to work to ensure that the park is built.
The 14.5 acres, commonly called Camp Arawak, was donated to the people of the Virgin Islands by the late Frank Wiesner in 1974. The deed stipulated that the property, which contains the ruins of a Danish colonial-era great house and other cultural and archeological artifacts, was to be developed into a park.
Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the governments cash shortfalls, however, have left the great house in disrepair and the property undeveloped.
Richards said, "As a plaintiff in the lawsuit, an appointed member of the Great Pond Advisory Board and a senator from the district of St. Croix, I continue to be concerned and vigilant in ensuring that the public trust land is developed for the use of residents and visitors alike."
The Source tried to contact OMB Director Ira Mills for a response but was told that all inquiries had to be sent in writing. Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull was not available for comment by press time.
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