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HomeNewsArchivesFate of Girl Scout Camp in Estate Bordeaux Still Uncertain

Fate of Girl Scout Camp in Estate Bordeaux Still Uncertain

Aug. 9, 2006– A recommendation to reprogram $100,000 worth of federal funds for the Girl Scouts of the Virgin Islands generated concerns for many senators during a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) hearing held Tuesday evening on St. Thomas.
According to testifiers from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, giving the money to the organization during fiscal year 2007 would take money away from another project, whose funding has already been approved by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
During the meeting, Laurence Joshua, CDBG director for DPNR, explained that the Girl Scouts has been trying since 2004 to receive federal funding to rebuild its camp in Estate Bordeaux. However, since the lease for the property has been in question for the past six years, DPNR, responsible for administering CDBG funds, decided not to move forward with the project.
Joshua said the Virgin Islands receives $1.9 million worth of CDBG funds every year and has to distribute the money between various organizations, agencies and programs throughout the territory. While there is also approximately $5.5 million worth of unused CDBG funds available to reprogram for other applicants, the department only allocates money for projects which are ready to move forward, he said.
Joshua said this year Turnbull initially decided to reprogram money requested by the Girl Scouts to the Hearts In Service Association for the construction of a transitional housing facility in Anna's Retreat. However, Joshua said both he and Turnbull were recently informed by Sen. Lorraine L. Berry that the Girl Scouts had been able to obtain a lease from Property and Procurement, and subsequently recommended that the organization's money be reinstated.
"Hearts in Service still has to develop the construction plan for its facility," Joshua said. "And we have been told that the Girl Scouts have completed their plans and specs and were recently able to sign a lease. So this year, the department recommends that we take care of the Girl Scouts. Next year it will be Hearts In Service."
Joshua's recommendation raised the ire of Sen. Celestino A. White Sr., who said that a lease for the Girl Scouts camp has not yet been submitted to the Legislature for approval. He said that transitional housing was needed throughout the territory and that Hearts In Service deserved the money.
Most senators echoed White's statements, and said they were not sure whether funding should be taken from Hearts in Service. However, they seemed less skeptical about the issue after hearing from Rev. Joseph McDonald Henry, vice president of Hearts in Service, who said that he is "willing to overcome obstacles" in order to "continue doing the organization's work."
"We'll just be waiting with excitement for next year when we're sure we can get the funding and continue building our facility," he said. "I'm not willing to fight over this."
The Legislature will ultimately decide whether or not to award grants to applicants already recommended by DPNR and approved by Turnbull.
During the meeting, senators also heard testimony from other CDBG applicants from St. Thomas. Grants approved for funding by Turnbull are:
–$20,000 for We From Upstreet Inc. to continue an after-school program for students from the J. Antonio Jarvis Elementary School;
–$35,000 for the Methodist Training & Outreach Center to provide outreach and supportive services to the homeless;
–$10,000 for the Brighter Writers Summer Club to operate a summer camp;
–$11,545 to the Wesley Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas to operate an after-school program in Anna's Retreat;
–$15,000 to St. Andrew's Seek and Serve Inc. for an after-school program in Sugar Estate;
–$20,000 to the Virgin Islands Resource Center for the Disabled Inc. to operate an after-school program for the disabled at No. 74-75 Kronprindsens Gade;
–$20,000 to Virgin Islands Missions Inc. to operate an after-school program in Vitraco Park;
–$10,000 to Kidscope Inc. to provide services to children and families who have been abused or exposed to domestic violence;
–$10,000 to Housing, Parks and Recreation to operate a summer swimming program for low- to moderate-income youths;
–$162,621 to the Long Path/Garden Street Association for the development of a community center;
–$384,955 to Hearts In Service Association for the construction of a transitional housing facility in Anna's Retreat; and
–$40,000 for Legal Services of the Virgin Islands to restore its offices at No. 47 Kongens Gade.
Prior to the signing of the Girl Scouts lease, Turnbull also recommended funds be reprogrammed:
–from the Girl Scouts of the Virgin Islands to the Methodist Outreach Center to purchase offices and to the Long Path/ Garden Street Association for the development of a community center ($275,050)
–from the Education Department to the Guy Benjamin Community Center project on St. John and to the Methodist Outreach Center on St. Thomas to purchase offices ($250,000)
–from Housing, Parks and Recreation to the construction of a community center in Bordeaux, and to develop an indoor recreation center in Smith Bay ($65,000).

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