As the lead architects of the Port of Mandahl project, Springline Architects wants to provide accurate information about the Port of Mandahl project currently under review for CZM permits and to respond to many of the rumors, speculation and outright falsehoods circulating in the community in respect to this development. When the developer approached us, before we accepted the assignment to design this project, our prerequisites were that this project have no connection with Hans Lollik, and that the basin be developed in a manner that exceeded CZM and other environmental requirements. Both of those prerequisites have been met.
Port of Mandahl and Great Hans Lollik island no longer legally connected:
In the 1960's the Government of the Virgin Islands and Hans Lollik Corporation entered an agreement allowing for the development of Great Hans Lollik and a 99-year lease for the development of the 24-acre Mandahl Bay site. During the first phrase of development under this agreement, an opening was cut through the existing salt pond basin to the ocean, the site vegetation was cleared and the rock jetties were constructed. Since then, the basin has been filling with silt from storm water runoff and sand from the beach has been displaced into the cut entrance channel (this was a direct result of the jetty construction).
Great Hans Lollik and the lease agreement with the Government was purchased and transferred to Tamarind Resort Associates in 1989. Tamarind Resort Associates sold Great Hans Lollik to Hans Lollik Land Corporation, LLLP, controlled by a Bruce Tizes company. Tamarind Resort Associates retained ownership of the leasehold interest in the Mandahl Bay property and subsequently sold it to Mandahl Bay Holdings, Inc. later in 2004.
Mandahl Bay Holdings, Inc. has no ownership interest or association with the current owner of Great Hans Lollik island. Furthermore, as a condition of the purchase of Great Hans Lollik from Tamarind Resort Associates, the new owners of Great Hans Lollik no longer have the right to stage operations from Mandahl Bay for any development of Hans Lollik. These documents are Public record and available for public review.
Legal Standing for Mandahl Marina:
The lease agreement with the Government of the Virgin Islands specifically authorizes the development of the marina, housing and related facilities. At the time of the purchase of the leasehold interest from Tamarind Resort Associates, Mandahl Bay Holdings, Inc. received an estoppel certificate from the Government confirming that the Mandahl Bay Marina lease was valid and in full force and effect. This document and the lease are included in the CZM Permit Document and available for Public review.
Zoning and Density:
The proposed development is consistent with the existing zoning for the property as well as the uses specified in the agreement with the VI Government and the densities are well below statutory limits.
Springline Architects welcomes public participation in the design development phases. As a result, we have presented the project to and received comments from a number of groups, including among others: the Mandahl Neighborhood, the Friends of Mandahl, CZM and DPNR agencies, Federal Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries, Army Corp of Engineers, individual concerned citizens, Dr. David Olsen, Staff Scientist for the St. Thomas Fisherman's Association, its president, vice president and board of directors. As a result of these meetings, we have modified the project to address their reasonable concerns.
The local labor force will be the primary source for construction. With over 20 years of construction experience here in the Virgin Islands, we build with local talent. The scale of the buildings is designed to eliminate any need to go off island for contractors.
Additionally, after construction, there will be no reason to go off island for any of the management or support staff needed to operate or maintain this development and to insinuate otherwise is a discredit to the many Virgin Islanders that are qualified and will be employed for the positions.
Concern for the Environment:
The potential adverse environmental impacts have been analyzed working with government agencies and experienced environmental consultants. The first goal is to avoid any impact and where this is not possible, mitigation plans are introduced. These mitigation efforts have been in constant review with all government agencies and by responding to their continuing comments the project has achieved a higher level of refinement and surpasses current mitigation requirements. The plans are extensive and multifaceted and we encourage you to attend the public hearing to understand their depth.
Archeological reports were completed and submitted to the St. Thomas Historic Preservation Office who concurred with the surveys and have no objections to the proposed project. This approval letter is included in the CZM Application and available for review.
Closing of Mandahl Marina Basin during construction:
Working with current users of the boat basin we have developed a phased dredging plan that will keep the basin open allow for all but the final phase which is the dredging of the entrance. We anticipate that this fourth and final phase will take approximately 2 to 4 weeks.
Local Use of the Marina Basin:
There are several current uses of the Marina Basin area that have been addressed in the project. In the final plan we have a mooring area for up to twelve working fishing boats, a public boat ramp, and dinghy area to mention a few. Additionally, accommodations will be made for emergency use of the Marina during extreme weather conditions, which will include private boats on a system similar to that used by the National Park Service.
The land development concept is to provide an inclusive residential community with a work/live "town center" that encourages local participation in residences, small scale retail and commercial opportunities, markets for local artists and farmers. There are also a number of different residential types that include small apartments, marina based townhouses and oceanfront condominiums.
There are no gates in this project, none on the public road or in the parking areas as this project is designed for pubic participation. To that end, the public uses of the project include a non-denominational place of worship, community center available for use by the public, classrooms for children's workshops, a local market place and water access.
In closing, Springline Architects believes that the public hearings to be conducted by CZM offer an opportunity for a balanced presentation of the project to be made and also provides an opportunity for comments by the public to be recorded. These comments are both for and against the project, and attendance does not simply constitute a negative vote. As stated, we welcome this discussion as valid points and concerns can always be incorporated into the project.
Thank you for your time and interest in the future development of our islands.
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to email@example.com.