88.6 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, October 4, 2022


The family of the late Frank Wiesner is supporting Beal Aerospace’s proposal to exchange property with the V.I. government that Wiesner had deeded to the people of the territory for park land 25 years ago.
A press release Thursday afternoon from The Wiesner Development Company stated that Frank Wiesner’s intention was for the government to develop the nearly 15-acre parcel, which is home to historical buildings and Indian artifacts, into a park.
But because the financially troubled government hasn’t done anything with the property in nearly 25 years, "it is clear that things will not improve if this property continues to be owned by a government that is so cash poor that it can barely provide the most basic of services to the people of the Virgin Islands," the release said.
If Beal does acquire the land, the statement said, the company has the potential to provide a "desperately needed boost to the economy of St. Croix."
The land swap involves 14.5 acres at the site now occupied by Camp Arawak for approximately 15 acres of land Beal owns in Estates Whim and Grange Hill. Beal needs the Camp Arawak land for a portion of a parking lot that will accompany its proposed world headquarters and rocket assembly plant near Great Pond Bay on St. Croix’s sparsely populated southeast shore.
In a press conference Thursday, opponents of Beal locating at Great Pond, including Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, said the covenants, codes and restrictions at the Grange Hill subdivision restrict uses of the plots to single family homes.
Within the land exchange agreement is language that would allow Beal to gain needed rezoning for almost 300 acres of property adjacent to the Camp Arawak site. That land is currently zoned for waterfront hotel development, but Beal needs it rezoned for industrial use.
Company representatives, however, maintain that most of the acreage would be used as a buffer surrounding the seven-acre headquarters/assembly building. If built, the 320,000 square foot building would be the largest single structure in the Eastern Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the Wiesner Company release also said that the government’s leasing of the 14.8 parcel to the privately run Camp Arawak "constituted a clear violation of the provisions of the deed."
It added that up to 1986, Frank Wiesner had "complained" about the lease and the "deplorable" conditions of the site to the government without success. After Frank Wiesner’s death, his widow, Margaret Wiesner, had St. Croix attorney Joel Holt write a letter to former Gov. Alexander Farrelly decrying the government’s management of the Wiesner’s donation.
The Wiesner release said that if Beal is successful, the local economy will benefit and "the Virgin Islands will finally begin to receive some benefit from Frank Wiesner’s gift, a possibility that will not exist if things are allowed to continue as they are."
However, it also said that the family’s endorsement of the swap doesn’t mean there isn’t a concern about the potential environmental impact of Beal’s proposal.
"We are certain that both the Coastal Zone Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers are capable of meeting this responsibility," the release said, without listing names of family members.
Neighboring residents and local environmental groups are adamantly opposed to the project. The Great Pond Residents Association fears that the Beal project will attract additional industrial businesses to set up shop on Beal’s remaining acreage. Such a possibility was voiced by Brad Oates, a Beal lawyer, when the company was applying for Industrial Development Commission benefits last year.
Just one of the concerns the St. Croix Environmental Association has is that Beal’s plan to use barges in a shallow lagoon will adversely affect a nearby barrier reef.

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.