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Saturday, July 20, 2024


The Beal Aerospace-V.I. government land exchange agreement at Great Pond Bay has finally been put on the Senate’s agenda, for Oct. 5.
Senate President Vargrave Richards’ office confirmed the date given by Wade Gates, Beal’s director of corporate affairs, on Tuesday. The date comes after Sen. Adelbert Bryan, who doesn’t support the exchange, twice tried to move the question in the Legislature. His efforts, however, were rebuffed because there was not enough support to ratify the exchange.
Beal’s proposal would have the government exchange 14.5 acres of land, once the home of a youth camp called 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 $57-million world headquarters and rocket assembly plant near Great Pond Bay on St. Croix’s southeast shore.
Opponents of the swap contend that the land was deeded to the people of the territory in order for it to be developed into a park. If the government were to exchange the land it would be a violation of the deed trust, opponents say.
Meanwhile, Gates said he and other Beal representatives met with Gov. Charles Turnbull and members of his staff and several senators on St. Thomas Monday to "sit down and go through the project."
Gates couldn’t say how many senators support Beal’s proposal, nor could he say how much the company had spent on an extensive public relations campaign. He said that despite a "handful of extremists," the company is confident about the outcome of the Oct. 5 Senate session.
"We’ve spent the last several weeks talking and meeting with people. (Senators) may or may not give you an indication" of how they will vote, Gates said. "We continue to be encouraged by what we hear."
If the Camp Arawak land is swapped with Beal Aerospace, members of the St. Croix Environmental Association have promised to sue in order to become the appointed trustee.
Gates said such a suit is welcomed by Beal. "In a way, we look forward to it," he said. "In court there is a process where you sort the facts…"

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