December 1, 2014 – Coral Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands – The proposed mega yacht marina in Coral Bay Harbor, St John, is attracting considerable attention, although not of the positive variety. Two appeals were filed on November 14th by the Virgin Islands Conservation Society to the Virgin Islands Board of Land Use Appeals contesting the permits granted to the Summers End Group by the local Coastal Zone Management committee. By the end of last week, three organizations of national prominence had endorsed the cause to block the development of the marina unless and until all environmental concerns have been thoroughly addressed.
The Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park sent an email to 15,000 members expressing serious concerns about the impact of the proposed marina on National Park resources. Their message stated: “The Environmental Assessment prepared for this marina gives no consideration to impacts to the (national) monument’s water quality, marine resources, wetlands (mangroves) coral reefs, sea grasses, fish, marine invertebrates, and species of concern protected by the Endangered Species Act. Likewise there is no consideration of impacts to park and monument soundscapes and lightscapes.” The full text of the Friends of the Park newsletter may be found here – friendsvinp.org/news-a-events/concern-about-marina-impacts .
The National Parks Conservation Association, an organization of over a million members and supporters made the following statement: “The construction of the (Summers End Group) marina could substantially alter the ecology and benthic communities within Coral Bay, while also impacting the delicate marine ecosystem within Hurricane Hole, located within Monument boundaries. Possible impacts to water quality, the health and vitality of threatened and endangered species, and critical benthic habitat must be thoroughly evaluated in order to prevent irreversible damage to the area’s environment.” The mission of the NPCA (www.npca.org) is “to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations.”
Also, the National Parks Traveler wrote about the threats posed by the Coral Bay marina to the Virgin Islands National Park and Coral Reef National Monument in an article to its 1.6 million readers. National Parks Traveler “works to educate the general public about the National Park System, increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting the national parks and the National Park Service, and build a stronger advocacy for protection and sound stewardship of the parks.”
The appeals filed by the Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS) point to wide ranging defects in the land and water permits issued to the Summers End Group. The complaints assert, among other things, that the application documents were incomplete (lacking proper legal authorization from the property owners), that the environmental impact review required by law was heavily flawed or nonexistent, that the review board’s actions were compromised by conflict of interest, and that the permits that were issued are illegal under Virgin Islands code. These appeals were filed with the Virgin Islands Board of Land Use Appeals on November 14th, 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the Save Coral Bay Fund, David Silverman said: “The appeals of the permits granted to the Summers End Group highlight the serious environmental harm that a marina of this scale would do to Coral Bay harbor and the surrounding waters of the national park system. It was a requirement of the law that these environmental impacts be thoroughly identified, and mitigation measures proposed to substantially lessen or eliminate the impacts. The Summers End Group failed to do this, and for that reason alone the permits should not have been granted. We are confident that through the appeals process we can stop this ill-conceived project, creating an opportunity to plan environmentally appropriate boating services solutions for all of St John.”
For more information, including the full text of the permit appeals and additional background on the environmental concerns surrounding this project, please visit savecoralbay.com. To support the mission of the Save Coral Bay Fund please visit GoFundMe.com/coralbay. To sign the online petition against the Marina go to http://savecoralbay.com/sign/