Saving the Caledonia Rainforest and Maroon Ridge Is Important

Caledonia Rainforest

Dear Source:

I am a member of Save Caledonia Rainforest and Maroon Ridge.

We are asking for a public hearing with the owners of the quarry. Aggregate, doing a proper presentation of what they propose with the opportunity for questions from the citizens.

The owners did not do a detailed presentation to the public at the quickly announced last meeting of their desire to rezone. They did not adequately provide details of the scope, maps of the area, explain what the rezoning changes would mean, what those rezoning requests were, the definition of each rezoning being asked for or provide exact details of the plan for the quarry to now include a cement and asphalt making factory.  

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This area is a unique treasure for St. Croix and the Virgin Islands.  

As an island, we are attempting to make a huge mark as a top eco-tourism destination in the Caribbean.  Especially since Cuba has opened up and is now breathing down our necks, eco-tourism should be No. 1 in touting the jewels of St. Croix.

Capturing the international market’s attention for time and dollars is essential for the flow of life-giving dollars to the people of St. Croix and the USVI.   

That is why we have to focus on what makes us so different from the other islands.

The answer is Maroon Ridge and the Caledonia Rainforest.  The pure history of the place is incredible.  Nowhere else in the U.S. did events such as this happen. In addition, the location in a rainforest is found nowhere else. 

We the people of St. Croix and USVI have an incomparable jewel.  This precious resource must be saved. For the current people of the Virgin Islands and for future generations.

Businesses of all kinds need to be supported. However not at the expense that would threaten a heritage site of such importance. A rainforest is not compatible with a quarry.

There there should be no rezoning of this oceanfront rainforest area for the business of cement making and an asphalt industry. How could cement making and asphalt making, and a quarry make reasonable and logical sense in this environment?

For over 26 years I have witnessed the de-evolution of that area due to the quarry.

I am asking that the entire operation, including the quarry, be moved and permanently shut down in its current location. There are 3 employees.  The rest of the workers are independent contractors.   There are many jobs available on the island post Maria.  Those 3 employees would be in good shape to pretty easily find other jobs for a good wage.  So, it is not a matter of an unemployment situation for individuals. 

  1. For years, it has not been proven satisfactorily that the quarry is even legal  

With the rezoning of the entire island that rainforest was to be for the people “in perpetuity.” Documents can be provided at the next hearing.  

In the early 2000s, it was waived in for operations by convicted felon, Dean Plaskett, who was the Commission at the time.   It is part of the official record that that this is the time period that he and Assistant commissioner were making their own side sham/deals to generate illegal income. 1999 Anne Abramson, owner/President of the quarry, was convicted of misusing FEMA funds and was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail. (She was given house arrest.) Isn’t it interesting that Plaskett would waive proper procedure and protocol so that the quarry was supposedly now “legal.”  That decision by Plaskett was reversed by his superior, yet things remain the same for 18 years.

  1. It has been documented, recorded, including with photos, that the unique coral, the ancient fish and shrimp that used to be in the streams/waterfalls are almost all gone, due to the activities of the quarry. Runoff from the quarry, including chemicals and sediment deadly to the environment in the rainforest, pours into the ocean unabated!

The fresh water table has been effected by the well that the quarry sunk on what turns out to the Federal Land. 

The quarry owners have never taken the legal, responsible normal adequate engineering and environmental protection steps to insure the environment was protected.  And that there would be no negative impact on our precious resource.

They have had over 20 years to be responsible business owners. They have basically thumbed their noses at the government and its citizens.

They were fined years ago for environmental violations.  To this day that fine has not been paid. The owner is a multi-millionaire. If this fine went unpaid by a normal citizen, DPNR would have come down on that individual like a ton of bricks.  

 The fact that the fine has gone unpaid is just another example that shows the arrogance, “above the law” attitude and complete disrespect shown by the owner and administration of Aggregate. 

  1.   Destruction of a public roadway in some places less than 10 feet from public beaches that are frequented by the public, has been discussed for over a decade. Micro-bacteria and germs spread by way of the dust of the quarry.              

                 Giant trucks have no business being on an oceanfront road that goes along the  beachfront and ocean.    

A huge liability is taken on by the VI government to allow these huge trucks to be running along a road that is narrow,  barely wide enough for 2 cars, much less huge semis,  without sidewalks for pedestrians or bike riders.

Logically this is an “accident waiting to happen.”  How long can you wait to have, God forbid, one of us or a tourist to be run over or to be injured?

It is not only unreasonable but illogical to think this road could ever be a transit area for humongous trucks.   There is a huge liability here that I have not seen addressed.  A liability that we the citizens would end of paying for in the case of an injury or death as it would be on a public unsafe road.  

No matter how well the road was paved over,  with these huge trucks,  it would not last.

  1. The well for the quarry is built on Federal land. Where is the Federal permit to allow a well on the people’s land to be used for an  individual’s business?  Has anyone seen this document or contract that allowed the well to be built on Federal land?

Who from the Federal government gave permission for such a well on Fed rainforest land of the people?

CZM, DPNR and permits have known for years the environmental problems from the quarry yet continue to allow this desecration of our oceans, coral, fish, rainforest and pristine land.

CZM and DPNR’s mission is to protect our environment. 

What’s  happening  that this has been allowed to go on for years??

  1. Two Danish historic bridges are being destroyed by the monstrous trucks going by. They were meant to hold 2 fully loaded up donkeys, and not semi-s.     

They are an important vital part of the story of this island,  I don’t think anyone would argue that. And talk about well built! They have been doing well since the 1700s, yet since the trucks have started they have been hit and impacted.

Inquiries have begun to register these bridges on the National Historic Landmark program. 

If they are considered eligible to be accepted,  their repair by professional experts in historical repairs would be funded by the Feds, per Section 106 of the Preservation Act. (Another historical site for tourists not seen anywhere else in the U.S.)

  1. Importantly, citizens of St. Croix are being directly impacted by the health hazards of the horrific amounts of dust, the noise from the blastings, and breathing in of the dust which builds up daily. (This has been going on way before the 2 hurricanes!) 

Have studies and research by the EPA and CDC been reviewed to research the public health impacts of living near a quarry and a cement making factory and an asphalt making factory? 

Moving forward: A professional coastal engineering large company in the state of Washington has been hired by Save Rainforest & Maroon Ridge to do a desktop study of the area.   They will be sending us their analysis based on the review of government reports, EPA, Army Corp of Engineering, and possible impact that an industry such as a quarry can have on an environment of ocean and rainforest. 

Public Hearing With the Senators along with a detailed professional presentation from Aggregate. As this is such an important matter possibly effecting Cruzans in a negative way for 50 more years (which apparently how long the quarry can operate)  the community deserves an informative detailed presentation and hearing re the proposed rezoning of this area to allow an asphalt making and cement making factory. Including an opportunity for questions from the citizens. 

(Being properly informed reasonably means would be at least three announcements in the paper re hearings, meetings, meetings/hearings with senators.     

Thank you for your attention on this very serious matter.

  1. Weiss
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