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HomeNewsLocal newsV.I. National Park Moving Ahead With Caneel Bay Transition to NPS

V.I. National Park Moving Ahead With Caneel Bay Transition to NPS

9/13/20
Caneel Bay Resort on St. John sparkles in this view taken from the North Shore Road overlook. (Source photo by Amy H. Roberts)

Virgin Islands National Park announced Thursday that it is actively working to transition Caneel Bay Resort on St. John to National Park Service management, following an April 22 U.S. District Court ruling affirming the United States’ ownership of the land and ordering EHI Acquisitions, LLC to convey and transfer title of the improvements immediately.

The ruling ended a protracted court battle over ownership of the resort that was managed by EHI since 2004 under an agreement known as a Retained Use Estate, though EHI has appealed the judge’s order that both the land — 150 acres of prime beachfront real estate — and its improvements are to be conveyed to the federal government. The government has a deadline of May 17 to respond to EHI’s motion.

The NPS will host a community meeting at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. where park staff will provide the latest updates about the Caneel Bay area transition. More information about the community meeting will be posted on the park’s Facebook page. Caneel Bay information can also be found here.

The Caneel Bay Resort Area remains closed to the public due to hazardous conditions, according to the announcement. Park management, with assistance from NPS’s Eastern Incident Management Team, is working to provide public access using a phased approach as outlined in the selected alternative from the Caneel Bay Redevelopment and Management Environmental Assessment that was completed last July.

“Priority will be given to safely allowing public beach access in the area, while continuing with condition assessments of facilities and infrastructure,” the announcement stated.

“We thank our neighbors and visitors for their patience as we work towards re-establishing visitor services at Caneel Bay,” said VINP Superintendent Penny Del Bene. “Our goal is to invite Virgin Islanders and visitors back to Caneel Bay as soon as safely possible. The full reopening of the Caneel Bay Resort will take time, and we ask for your continued understanding.”

NPS staff from across the country started arriving in the area last week to support the transition process. There is no timetable for public opening at this time, the park said. Updates, along with the NPS development plans can be found at go.nps.gov/caneelbay.

Environmental Cleanup Continues 

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA, the National Park Service has completed the first phase of environmental cleanup at the Caneel Bay Resort. NPS removed 317 cubic yards of nonfriable asbestos-containing material debris that was transported to a permitted Florida landfill for disposal, according to Thursday’s announcement.

The initial environmental cleanup phase at Caneel Bay began in January and focused on removing ACM debris from the 2017 hurricanes, Irma and Maria. NPS and its contractors removed debris from three areas near Little Hawksnest, Scott Beach and Turtle Point. The work only involved asbestos-containing hurricane debris no longer attached to buildings and did not include demolition, the park said. NPS used two contractors to remove the material and perform daily air quality monitoring, while ensuring proper handling procedures were followed, it added.

The NPS said it expects to provide updates about remaining CERCLA removal actions in the coming weeks.

Current information about the NPS environmental cleanup efforts at Caneel Bay will be available at https://www.nps.gov/viis/caneelbay.htm.

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