July 25, 2005 The Red Hook Community Alliance has no plans to give up its efforts to save Vessup Beach — a battle the nonprofit organization has been waging for more than a year. On Monday evening, the group met to discuss its next plan of action.
In April, members of the Red Hook Alliance had stormed Government House, pleading with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to take action against the proposed sale of the property to a private mainland developer. However, Turnbull did not even come down to speak with the protesters.
Many of the group's members who attended the Monday night meeting said they were frustrated at the governor's inaction. Andrea King, Red Hook Community Alliance president, told the group the next step would be to seek a mandamus from the court, ordering the governor to comply with a recently adopted law to acquire the beach through eminent domain.
"I hope we won't have to go down the mandamus route," King said. But if we have to, we will sue the governor and the attorney general's office. If they won't do anything by September 30, we'll file."
King said an official from the attorney general's office had told her that the $3 million appropriated for the acquisition of Vessup would not be available until September 30, so they will wait until then to see if the government follows through with the law.
The alliance member's questioned how helpful the AG's office would be in acquiring Vessup because, as King and others put it, the attorney general is appointed by and is at the disposal of the governor, who doesn't seem to care.
"The government's structure needs to be changed," King said, adding that the attorney general should be elected by the people instead of being appointed by the governor.
Alliance member Joyce Waller agreed, calling the system "archaic."
King said a nonprofit group had expressed interest in purchasing the land temporarily and reselling it to the government, but they would only do so via a contractual agreement with the government. King would not name the organization, however.
The group agreed to hold a Save Vessup Beach Clean-Up and Barbecue fundraiser September 4 to help hire an environmental lawyer, in case the group could not find an attorney willing to work on their behalf pro bono.
"The whole community is invited," King said.
In other action, the alliance also discussed the need for a police substation in the Red Hook area. King said the American Yacht Haven owners had approved the use of the former Esso gas station as a site for a police substation, and she had discussed that with Police Commissioner Elton Lewis in a meeting.
However, Lewis informed her that the police were planning a mobile unit to move between the high-crime areas on the island in an effort to have frequent police presence in these areas.
"It's not a bad concept; it's just [a question of] will it happen," King said. "We're still really hoping that Red Hook will be the site of a permanent substation."
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