Wondering what is going on with the Summers End Marina plans for Coral Bay? Try to get your hands on a copy of yesterday’s (July 16th) Daily News and check out David Silverman’s excellent article on page 25.
Here is a bullet point summary of what happened so far
- Summers End Group is proposing the construction of a 145 slip Marina, covering 28 acres, built on 1333 steel pilings, providing slips for Mega Yachts up to 210ft.
- It is proposed to be built directly on top of prime sea turtle habitat and adjacent to Mangroves and on top of the environmental concerns, its unrealistic size and location on the exposed windward side are simply a very bad idea
- In response to public notice, more than 13000 Letters were submitted to the Army Corps along with 1000 pages of formal comments, including expert reports on economic, navigation, water quality and ecosystem concerns
- An online petition that was started on stjohn-info.com and later moved to savecoralbay.com has generated almost 6000 signatures
- 5 federal agencies submitted extensive comments, all opposed to the proposed Marina
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rescinded a Boating and Infrastructure Grant that had been awarded to Summer’s End.
- The Army Corps of Engineers assigned a new project manager who deemed the Summers End application incomplete and and told the Summers End Group to resubmit.
- Bumper Stickers, T-Shirts and Flags that read “Save Coral Bay” can be seen everywhere on St. John.
- The Save Coral Bay Gofundme Page has raised over 100.000$ (!) in donations to help stop the Marina (e.g. for legal fees etc.)
What did Summers End Group do while all this was happening?
- They resubmitted virtually the same application only removing the 75 position public mooring field, still wanting a permit for a project that has been universally described as environmentally destructive in an unsuitable location and found unworthy of permit by 5 agencies.
- They removed their facebook page which was flooded with thousands of comments of locals and visitors opposing the Marina. Before it was deleted it was very amateurishly managed, by random deletion of legimate comments and concerns (that were in neutral, non-offensive language, sometimes only asking questions) and blocking people. If they are so convinced the Marina is a good thing, they could have used that as an open forum to answer questions and address concerns.
- Instead, they put up a brand new, posh website http://www.theyachtclubatsummersend.net (note: they could not even manage to secure their name or a name close to that as a .com domain) with text that must have been written by someone who lived not on, but under a rock for the last 6 months…
Our personal favorite is:
“The environmentally sensitive marina is enthusiastically supported by local St. John families and businesses.YCSE is a marine destination vision and legacy development that will enrich lives for generations to come.”
Seriously?!?! After over 5000 signatures and 13000 letters opposing the Marina, Save Coral Bay stickers on every other car on the island and 5 federal agencies opposing it? This statement could not be further from the truth.
- They are issuing press releases saying their marina will be operational in 2015
- They are actively soliciting investment
- They started an online campaign for slip reservations
Due to the resubmitted application, all the Comment Letters to the Army Corps of Engineers unfortunately have to be resubmitted, as David Silverman puts it “The waste in public and private resources involved in reviewing commenting and legitimately opposing this project is staggering. Financial and human resources that could be deployed in improving the the environment are instead mobilized to protect the environment from destructive proposal.
Detailed instructions for how to submit comments are here.
You can also keep signing the online petition and spreading the link
We don’t have much to add to David’s excellent article, except maybe that even if all the environmental and other concerns could be addressed and resolved, do we really trust this company who has never built anything and whose management has a track record of bankruptcies in the field of interior design to see this project through? They have no verifiable record of any construction experience anywhere in the world, yet alone the Caribbean, where some things just work slightly different.
Can we trust a management that has demonstrated a complete and utter lack of understanding of the very basic rules of PR and marketing to manage and complete such a project? Getting a project of this magnitude completed (with zeor experience) on time and within financial restrictions stateside is hard, but on the remotest part of a Caribbean Island with 4000 inhabitants?
Anyone who has built a villa on St. John or read “Don’t stop the carnival” will know what I mean….
Further to that, they seem to have a no experience in or understanding of the Yachting business. The proposed business model has some serious flaws. What are Marinas used for? Mainly to re-supply and start and end trips. Why would someone fly to STT, take a 45 minute taxi and 25 min ferry ride plus another 45 minute taxi ride (add the wait time and 3 times loading and unloading luggage = 3-4 hour journey) to start a charter? And than there is the topic of refueling and restocking. How would they possibly compete with STT or BVI prices in fuel or groceries?
Which leads us to the next question: What would happen to Coral Bay if this project was started and never completed (running out of funds, unforseen problems, ….) ?
More information and background
Can be found here: http://www.stjohn-info.com/category/stjohn-usvi-news-events/coral-bay-marina/
Stay tuned for the latest news: savecoralbay.com/
Oh, and there was a bit of a misleading article in the Tradewinds Newspaper. Check out what Save Coral Bay has to say about that: http://savecoralbay.com/misleading-information/