If you’re waiting for a marina to be built on St. John, don’t hold your breath.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter last month to the Summers End Group, LLC. detailing a list of concerns that must be addressed before the developers can proceed with construction of a 144-slip mega-yacht marina in Coral Bay.
The St. John Marina, also known as the Yacht Club at Summers End, received its permit from the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Coastal Zone Management board in 2014; a revised permit for the project was ratified by the V.I. Legislature in 2020 after a contentious battle and signed into law by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.
When the project’s developers presented their plan to the Legislature, attorney David Cattie, representing Summers End, wrote in his testimony: “If this Legislature votes positively on the CZM Permit and the Submerged Land Lease as proposed, the US Army Corps of Engineers permit will soon follow.”
But given the Army Corps’ list of concerns outlined in the 20-page letter, the Summers End Group has much work to do in order to meet the requirements set by federal agencies.
The Army Corps’ Sept. 13 letter states that the Summers End Group has not satisfied requests for information regarding the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Additionally, the Corps does not have enough information to resolve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency objections presented … nor do we have enough information to resolve the National Marine Fisheries Service, Habitat Conservation Divisions objections … Moreover, additional information is necessary to complete the interagency consultation procedures required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act,” the letter stated.
The letter outlined an extensive list of environmental concerns, including negative effects on the water quality from construction, impacts on the seagrass and marine life from shading once the marina is built, and “impacts to the soundscapes, lightscapes, cultural and archaeological resources and visitor use of the Virgin Islands National Park and Coral Reef National Monument.”
The letter calls for further studies, including an updated Numerical Modeling Analysis, a major component of the application which shows the project’s overall impact on water quality for Coral Bay.
Furthermore, the report challenged the size of the marina.
“The Corps acknowledges that the applicant has proposed avoidance and minimization measures in the project; however, we believe that additional avoidance and minimization measures should be provided, including but not limited to downsizing the footprint of the marina and/or the number of slips. To date, the applicant has only reduced the number of slips by one,” the letter said.
The letter cited numerous other concerns, including the lack of a plan to relocate moorings for at least 70 vessels in Coral Bay and the recent documentation of an historic shipwreck within the marina’s footprint.
The letter asked Chaliese Summers, the managing partner of the Summers End Group, to respond to the request for further information in order to continue processing the application.
“Please notify the Corps if you need additional time to provide the information,” the letter stated. “If the Corps does not receive a response, we will assume you have no further interest in obtaining a Department of the Army permit and the Corps will either withdraw your permit application or proceed with a permit decision which may not be favorable. Such action will result in final action by the Department of the Army.”
The Source reached out to Chaliese Summers, asking her to list the Summers End Group’s top priorities for providing information to address the Army Corps’ concerns.
Summers declined to answer the question but provided the following statement. “Summers End has been working diligently through the federal process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that projects like this provide.”
“Summers End understands the potential that the St. John Marina brings to the USVI and will continue to complete the federal process through upcoming meetings and information that is being provided to the USACE in order to finalize the permitting process successfully as we have done with all other permitting processes,” she continued.
“Now more than ever the territory needs sustainable economic development projects like The St. John Marina that focus on environmental restoration and preservation while empowering native St. Johnian families as partners, property owners, employees and through the creation of entrepreneurial opportunities that projects like this provide,” Summers stated.