The old Carlton Hotel beach on the south shore of St. Croix has become a dumping ground for rusted cars, trash and abandoned dogs, but this weekend concerned citizens and several government agencies plan to clean the area to prevent future dumping and other criminal activities. The hotel has been closed for decades and little remains of the structure.
Estate Carlton resident Diane Brooks is organizing the effort and is among those calling for volunteers to show up Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Brooks said she noticed stringy, black plastic debris washing up on her beachfront west of the Carlton Hotel beach several months ago. She and her husband, Gary, scoured the area looking for the source and eventually discovered piles of black, plastic cable wrap and other garbage on the cliff east of the hotel’s beach, Brooks said.
The black plastic has been identified as the outer wrapping from copper telephone wiring, similar to that stolen from communications lines from utility poles along the highway and several schools.
In addition to mounds of plastic, used tires, rotten furniture, plastic and paper trash, Brooks said they discovered at least a dozen dogs, many maimed and starving, living in the bush. They began feeding the dogs and called the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center for help, she said.
The animal center declined to pick up the dogs because their contract with the V.I. government had lapsed. The Brookses have taken one pup into their home and said they hoped others will be adopted as well.
Brooks said they also called several governmental officials and agencies, including Greg Schuster at the Governor’s Office, Vince Ebbesen at the V.I. Waste Management Authority, Public Works Commissioner Gustav James and Sen. Positive Nelson.
Schuster arranged to have a tow truck remove three rusted automobiles from the area this week. Another car, apparently driven off the cliff a month or so ago, remains in the sea.
Brooks said she isn’t sure how it will be dealt with or who will do it.
On Thursday, the VIWMA is scheduled to deliver three dumpsters to the end of the public road for the cleanup planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers will separate metal, tires and trash into the bins and the authority will pick up the dumpsters as necessary.
Nelson said he has tried to line up volunteers and sent out a “blast” email to the members of the Peace Initiative asking them to donate time. Over the weekend, he and his staff will help for an hour or two. Nelson said it is important to monitor abandoned property to prevent crime, referring to the car at the bottom of the cliff and copper wire covering at the site.
“We’re one community. Sometimes private property is OK, because it’s not the owners damaging the property,” he said.
The areas affected are privately owned. One owner is deceased and no one has been identified to pay taxes or manage the property. The other owners live elsewhere but gave permission to access the area for clean up and monitoring, Brooks said.
Now all that is needed are volunteers to show up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to help sort and dispose of the trash. Plastic gloves will be provided and everyone who helps will receive a ticket to a barbeque at a later date, Brooks said.
“Give me one hour. Get a group together and come out. We’re not asking for a full day,” she said.
After the cleanup, Public Works plans to monitor the area, according to Brooks.