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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesThe Legislature’s Beach Is No Minor Matter

The Legislature’s Beach Is No Minor Matter

Dear Source:

The Executive Director of the 28th Legislature of the Virgin Islands decides (all on his own?) to destroy the last natural bit of Charlotte Amalie’s waterfront. What for? To make more room for parking. Where? On the sand that he (alone?) directed over a holiday weekend to be brought in; sand that will definitely not be cooperative in staying in place. Oops, just a little mistake; thought I had a permit.
If one had a Coastal Zone Management Permit for activity in submerged lands, one would have had to consult with marine experts and somehow counteract the poor record of the success of “beach nourishment” projects. In addition, there is the question of where the sand came from, a question that looms large in the annals of shoreline abuse.
St. Thomas Harbor is a designated Area of Particular Concern. Moreover, the Legislature Building, and presumably, the land on which it sits is officially and nationally recognized as an historic site, subject to considerable scrutiny before approval for alteration is given. Even the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works in its latest plans for improvements to the waterfront highway has acknowledged the importance of saving that rocky frontage.
The Legislature is not above the law concerning projects in submerged lands, but what we have here is a blatant disregard for the provisions of Section 911 of the Coastal Zone Management Act which require even more justification than the requirements for the approval of permits for fast land development.
Proposed activities in submerged lands also require a permit from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. WICO knows this. Every person applying for a private dock knows this. Surely Mr. Willis knew it as well. There is no excuse.
This outrage was committed on public trust land. I am hoping that the public cares enough to demand that the Department of Planning and Natural Resources require complete restoration of the area, and that the Legislature rules that payment for the restoration be shouldered entirely by the person(s) responsible — not by we the taxpayers. Yours ever hopeful for environmental justice,
Helen Gjessing
St. Thomas
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