April 5, 2001– It is my belief that the recent uproar over the placement of the desalinization barge within the boundary of the British Virgin Islands provides an opportunity for the people of both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands to resurrect talks on a closer union between the territories in light of our common interests.
It has been a personal viewpoint of mine over an extended period that there exists an outstanding opportunity for the pooling of resources between these closely related, yet politically separate, jurisdictions.
To promote my view on this matter, I was fortunate to have a guest editorial printed in another local publication. In it I expressed the thought that the territories, through their parent countries, should consider a joint undersea electrical transmission project that would aid both territories in the event of a natural and/or catastrophic disaster in the immediate area (St. Thomas, St. John and British Virgin Islands).
I have advocated the inclusion of this topic on the agenda of the regularly held InterVirgin Islands Conference as a way of building upon our similarities and common interests, rather than focusing on what makes us different. One commonality that we share is that we are both dependent, non-self-governing colonies with unsettled issues regardign political status and self-determination.
I embrace the concept that the late Dr. Norwell Harrigan advanced of a Greater Virgin Islands that would create a union between the two territories. I find this idea exhilarating and full of opportunities to merge our resources and become a more effective player in the global community in which we must participate.
Rather than compete against each other in the same markets, can't we envision how we can better utilize our limited resources cooperatively? Is it difficult to imagine municipal governments and island councils in place throughout a redefined and reconstituted Virgin Islands? How about a well-developed, comprehensive tourism program so that, when the individual components are brought together synergistically, they command a presence and have an effect that is far greater than the sum of the individual contributions that each existing territory can realize on its own?
Can't we envision maximizing the benefits of our natural geography, our physical and environmental resources, and thus being in a stronger competitive position against distant locations?
I believe if we can think along these lines and "out of the box," then issues that divide us — such as the most current one involving the desalinization barge – will be defeated and occupy a less-prominent place in our collective psyche.
Editor's note:St. Thomas resident Gaylord A. Sprauve is a retired V.I. government adminsitrator.