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Monday, February 6, 2023


Oct. 22, 2001 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull gave preliminary approval two months ago for the Public Finance Authority's backing of a $10 million bond issue for the developers of the proposed Botany Bay resort to make improvements at the Bordeaux wastewater treatment plant.
In a letter dated Aug. 23, 2001, Turnbull informed George Dudley, the attorney for Botany Bay Partners, that the $10 million authorization had been tentatively approved. Turnbull, who as governor chairs Public Finance Authority board, directed Dudley to speak with PFA officials and the PFA attorney to finalize conditions for the authorization.
The approval does not mean the V.I. government will be making the loan. But it would give the government's backing for the Botany Bay developers to float a bond to finance the improvements at the treatment plant.
The federal Internal Revenue Service authorizes the V.I. government to back private-activity bonds worth about $30 million a year. These bonds must be for projects which are funded by private businesses but carry a public benefit — such as making infrastructure improvements to a wastewater treatment plant.
The $10 million tentatively approved for the Botany Bay project comes out of that $30 million annual authorization. The approval could help the Botany Bay partners secure a better financing deal for the project and would give them tax advantages.
The developers have proposed building a 5-star resort at Botany Bay, on St. Thomas's relatively undeveloped West End. The $169 million project would include dozens of timeshare units, condominiums and residential lots. As part of the plan, they propose upgrading the Bordeaux wastewater facility, installing pipes to connect the resort area with the facility and building a desalination plant.
In giving his tentative approval to backing the $10 million bond, Turnbull wrote that the allocation would be contingent on the developers' making water available to farmers in the area and to others in the community in case of emergencies such as fires.
Alain Longatte, project manager for the Botany Bay developers, called the proposal "a great opportunity to help the community to upgrade the West End sewage and water treatment plant." Along with upgrades to the treatment facility and its pumps and piping, the developers would build the desalination plant and provide water for farmers in Bordeaux and Fortuna, he said.
The proposed development has raised concerns about its impact on the environment and on pre-Columbian archeological sites at Botany Bay. The area currently is zoned for residential use, and public hearings on rezoning have yet to be held by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources or the Coastal Zone Management Committee.
Opponents of the project say that the governor's approval of the $10 million authorization indicates that the Turnbull administration supports the development, even though no public hearings have been held yet.
"This demonstrates support. When the principals seek financing, they'll show the government support as security," said Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, who has stated that he would like to see the Botany Bay area preserved for public use. "DPNR and CZM are already under a great deal of pressure," he added.
Carla Joseph, president of the Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John, expressed concern earlier this year when Ira Mills, director of the Office of Management and Budget, described the Botany Bay project to the Senate Finance Committee as a key component of the territory's economic revitalization.
"Even your implied support for this project is inappropriate, given the lack of approved plans and the widespread opposition to any development in this beautiful and sensitive area," she wrote Turnbull in a letter dated Aug. 24, 2001.
Public hearings on the project have been postponed while the developers complete reports on the environmental impacts of the resort. Longatte said that a hydrology report and an archeological report concerning a proposed roadway were submitted to DPNR on Monday. The filing of those documents could lead to the scheduling of the first rezoning hearing, he said.

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