83.2 F
Cruz Bay
Friday, September 30, 2022


Kudos to the V. I. Port Authority for conceiving and developing Lindbergh Bay Park; congratulations especially to Executive Director Gordon Finch and project planner Darlan Brin.
The family park is a demonstration of the kind of joint endeavor between the Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission and a semi-autonomous government agency like the Port Authority can give a real boost to the quality of life in the Virgin Islands. At the same time, it demonstrates smart corporate sense. Develop the ports, bring in tourist dollars, but give something back to the people. They will support you all the more.
Attention, WICO! There is a big space at Long Bay created by your predecessor in 1986 and acquired by the government in 1993. Fenced off from public use, the filled land at Long Bay lies forlorn, ugly, neglected, a continuation of the eyesore presented by the derelict Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina.
Here is St. Thomas Harbor, arguably one on the most beautiful harbors in the world, yet one of the very few of comparable importance that has no public park on its waterfront. The filled land at Long Bay is the only portion of the entire waterfront, from the WICO docks to Frenchtown, that is undeveloped. Located at the edge of highly congested residential and commercial sprawl, is it not the logical place for a cultural and recreational park?
The Long Bay Park could present cruiseship passengers and charter boat clients with a pleasurable introduction to genuine Virgin Islands crafts, theatre and music. At the same time, the park can offer visitors and residents alike the opportunity to relax and play in an area otherwise sadly devoid of such amenities.
With careful planning and management, the Long Bay Waterfront Park's facilities could provide sufficient revenues to pay for itself. However, in terms of short-term visitor satisfaction – making a visit to St. Thomas pleasantly memorable – its non-monetary value is potentially even more important.
Developed as parkland, this site would fulfill to perfection the Coastal Zone Management Act's requirements for trustland development: "serving the public good" and "enhancing the existing environment". It might even provide the necessary incentive for a more appropriate renovation of the former Yacht Haven property than that previously proposed.
Long Bay Park could be the first step toward the realization of a continuous shore walk from the cruiseship dock to town; in fact, all the way to Frenchtown. It is an opportunity that is not likely to present itself again.
WICO, embrace the opportunity! Give Charlotte Amalie a waterfront park, not more shops and high-priced condominiums.
Editors' note: Helen Gjessing is the president of Save Long Bay Coalition founded in 1986.

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