74.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesBusiness as Usual Friday at the Park

Business as Usual Friday at the Park

Don’t look for any changes Friday at the V.I. National Park if the White House and the U.S. Congress can’t hammer out an agreement to avoid the Friday sequestration deadline, but the impact will be felt not too far down the road, acting Superintendent Mike Anderson said Thursday.

“The park remains open with services as usual. All employees will report to work,” he said, taking a break from duties at the park’s Folklife Festival held at Annaberg Plantation.

In anticipation of the sequester, Anderson said that the park did not replace the six staff members that have departed since Oct. 1. He said that since funding is still available for a lifeguard and interpretive ranger, those positions will be replaced.

With the number of people working full time for the park only in the “upper 40s,” the park depends on volunteers to staff the Visitor Center and, in some cases, even lead hikes. Most volunteers are snowbirds on St. John for the winter, and when they start to head north usually in April, the park won’t have anyone to take their place.

“It couldn’t come at a worse time,” Anderson said of the sequester.

Additionally those volunteers need a staff person to supervise them, which further compounds the issues facing the park.

Employee furloughs are part of the sequester equation and, if it comes to that, Anderson said the decision will be made at the highest levels of the park service in Washington, D.C.

Anderson said the furloughs could mean that the Visitors Center will have to close on weekends because there is no one to staff it.

And, of course, furloughs will have a financial impact on the park staff.

“Our employees are concerned and rightfully so,” Anderson said.

Although the sequester is front and center on everyone’s mind, Anderson said that the debt ceiling issue is coming up at the end of March. This could cause the federal government to close.

If there’s no resolution to the debt ceiling problem, Anderson said, the park will shut down. Since there’s no entrance gate to the park and the roads that run through it are public thoroughfares, the beaches will still be accessible. However, the bathrooms will be closed, the lifeguards at Cinnamon Bay off the job, and the Visitors Center closed. Park organized hikes to Reef Bay wouldn’t happen. And commercial activities like weddings and transportation from Reef Bay aboard the Sadie Sea won’t happen if the debt ceiling crisis isn’t dealt with.

“It’s really a very serious situation,” Anderson said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.