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Senate Committee Approves Money for Public Beach Access

June 12, 2008 — In a short two-hour meeting Thursday, senators approved three nominees to the V.I. Board of Public Accountancy and a bill that sets aside money to buy land or easements for public beach access.
The bill, which passed with almost no discussion, sets up a separate Beach Access Account within the government's Land Bank Fund, a pot of money that funds affordable-housing opportunities for residents
The bill would make it easier for the departments of Planning and Natural Resources and Property and Procurement to access funds for beach-access easements without having to compete with other agencies, bill sponsor Alvin L. Williams said during Thursday's Rules and Judiciary Committee meeting.
"This is about us being able to create viable beach access for residents of this community," Williams said. "Beach access is not a privilege or an honor — it's a right."
DPNR's response to the bill was not as favorable. In a letter sent to the committee Thursday, department Commissioner Robert Mathes questioned whether the bill would accomplish anything.
"The administration agrees with the proposed act in principal, but is of the opinion that it is in danger of being ineffectual," he wrote. "This is because the proposed act appears to create another in a rather substantial list of funds which do not provide specific appropriations for the executive-branch agencies mentioned to retain the additional human resources needed to implement these mandates."
Despite Mathes' concerns, the bill passed unanimously and was sent to the full Senate body for a final vote during a session scheduled for later this month.
Nominees approved to the V.I. Board of Public Accountancy were Francisco Depusoir, Janice V. Hodge and Leslie A. Smith.
Present during Thursday's meeting were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, James A. Weber III, Carmen M. Wesselhoft, Celestino A. White Sr. and Williams.
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