To reference the statement made by Source reporter Don Buchanan regarding the often heard lament of "What about St. Croix?" I would propose that this statement become a mantra for those of us living on the Big Island. St. Croix schools, as well as most other areas of infrastructure, are in a serious state of demise and decline. All one need do to verify this statement is to merely look around. The roads are infamous in their deterioration. The sewage is continually bubbling up in the streets. Government-owned buildings and structures housing schools, libraries, departmental offices and public and health services speak volumes in their appearance and lack of proper facility maintenance.
Too often negative statements are made regarding government workers not doing their jobs, and the blame is unfortunately placed on these understaffed, mal-equipped, and overburdened individuals. They can only do as much as they are provided manpower, materials and equipment to do with. Which is woefully insufficient. The results of "make do" and "patched up" repairs are the demons that all of us on St. Croix are now suffering. "Band-aids have been historically used when organ transplants were required."
This statement is proven in all areas from sewage transport and treatment to the current situation with the pilings left behind at the Ann Abramson Cruise Ship Pier.
I don't want to continue to bang the comparative drum of using St. Thomas as a measuring stick to determine what St. Croix isn't getting. That's not necessary. I'm very glad business and tourism development, maintenance, infrastructure cleanliness and appearance is a priority on St. Thomas. It should be. St. Thomas is the premier port of call in the Caribbean. Not one of us in the Virgin Islands would want the repercussions of that position being compromised. Swallowing our jealousies and resentment of St. Thomas' position of prosperity, we on St. Croix need to look at things from a more rational standpoint. St. Thomas needs to continue to receive proper maintenance and attention to infrastructure. St. Thomas needs to continue to be aggressively marketed worldwide by the Department of Tourism to insure its position of preferred Caribbean port of call remains intact. And, in that vein, the Department of Tourism is to be commended in the success of their efforts for St. Thomas, in what has become an extremely competitive tourism market. I'm certain it has not been an easy task for the commissioner to keep St. Thomas on her "throne." Regardless of the state of tourism on the Big Island, Commissioner Pamela Richards remains extremely successful in her position when one considers tourism in the territory as a whole. It is almost impossible to sell broken goods, and St. Croix is currently broken. That is not the fault of the Department of Tourism.
Can we not continue to keep St. Thomas intact, and yet find the resources to fix what's broken on St. Croix?
No areas of attention or support should be taken from St. Thomas in an attempt to improve the deplorable conditions on St. Croix. I would hope the true goal of us all would be the protection of St. Thomas' prosperity, while demanding attention be taken to the deficits in maintenance, repair, infrastructure renovation and development, and all the accoutrements that come with those actions — for St. Croix.
So, I ask: "What about St. Croix?"
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.