Save Salt River and Bioluminescent Bay!
Those with strong opinions about the land on the east side of the bay where the research facility is going, should take the time to HIKE the land in question and kayak it. There's hardly a square foot of the northeast side of SR Bay that doesn't bear the scars of decades of neglect, failed development, and left-behind construction rubble, pipes and concrete slabs, --both in the water, inland, and around the shore.
The awareness of the bioluminsecent algae is a fairly recent awareness, promoted by my friend Bryan at Virgin Kayak, one of the true local experts on that area and its history. This recent public awareness may not have been considered by those who drew up the facility plans years ago, but I would strongly suspect the research staff WILL be concerned, and can imagine lighting being addressed.
Regarding the remark that the algae are there because of the nutrients... let me continue with my previous observation that WATER QUALITY in the BAY is in serious question. Concordia creek no longer flushes the bay as it did in antiquity, and the sewage from the marina is the likely source of these "nutrients". Which is to say, the Bay needs researched and reclaimed. You can wait for volunteers and the VI govt, but the smart money is on the Universities and NPS.
To the OP poster who keeps waxing about "historical significance and treasure" --it is, but you are on the wrong side of the bay. The kayaking and hiking and history buff tourist economy would be FAR GREATER SERVED by a cleaning up and restoration of the bay, removal of numerous sunken and derelict boats, construction of an actual public boat ramp, and proper historical monuments and maintenance.
I would trade the algae for water quality, cleanup, and historical preservation.
Neil: I agree that the land has been badly neglected, but I find your estimation to be grossly overstated. Although I do not know this for sure, I suspect that the concrete slabs were put there by the army core of engineers to stabilize the ground so it could be driven on. I saw an old photograph of the area just after the hotel on the peninsula was erected (the only construction that was ever started in my understanding, unless you know of another) and there was no evidence of these concrete slabs.
As for the bioluminescence, this is not an issue about lights. By the time they install lights on the pier, the bioluminescence will be a distant memory. It's the dredging that will destroy it. Consider the following:
"Mosquito Bay is surrounded by mangroves, and as you can see, their roots reach down into the water, " she says, panning the floodlightís beam across the tangled rows of vegetation. As the roots and fallen leaves of the mangroves decompose, scavenging bacteria produce vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for the dinoflagellates. Because of the opening to the sea is narrow, Grasso explains, B12 and other nutrients stay in the bay rather than being flushed out to sea. The shallowness of the bay means that the evaporation rate is high. With evaporation, the surface water becomes saltier and sinks to the bottom. This heavier water moves out to sea, leaving populations of Pyrodinium thriving at the surface. Itís a delicate balance. Alter the channel, and the exchange rate of water is thrown off; disturb the mangroves, and B12 source is imperiled. These conditions are rare," Grasso says. People say there maybe six or seven places like it in the world. There used to be more. New Providence Island in the Bahamas had a bioluminescent bay, until its opening to the sea was widened and the dinoflagellates population declined."
I have heard the sewage theory before, but it doesn't check out. Don't take my word for it, ask your local expert. UVI conducted a series of water quality tests on Bio Bay over the summer. The place with sewage is Sugar Bay and the marina. Notice this is also a place without bioluminescence. The dinoflagellates are actually extremely delicate, they do not tolerate pollution well.
I feel like we are wrestling over a false dichotomy here. Why do we have to give up Bio Bay in order to have anyone interested in cleaning up, researching, and bringing improvement to Salt River? Why are we to believe students must live in a resort-like setting in order to be able to study the bay? The students are supposed to come here for marine research, after all, so why wouldn't they be interested in studying bioluminescence as well? I refuse to believe that it is too much to expect that the building of MREC be more responsible and sensitive (environmentally, culturally, and historically) in terms of the location it chooses to develop.
Please do not think that I am arguing for "algae," as you put it, over water quality, clean up and historical preservation. I honestly believe we want the same things for the Bay, only my vision extends to include the Eastern shores and the Bio Bay as well.
I respect your passion aham. But I think you give yourself away when you complain that the facility to be built will be resort like. I've read their plan and it seems like a teaching facility to me. That said, what is wrong with attracting researchers? The island needs more of that kind of attention. And they surely need boats and docks.
My comments about water quality were about the entire bay.
There are numerous places around Bio bay and down along Triton Bay where the remains of aborted construction can be seen. The hotel complex was started twice by two different groups. There are at least three East side dredging locations where they altered the bay(s) and I suspect the end of Triton was also cut/dredged in the past to make a hurricane hole.
The prominent concrete slabs on the eastern point were not put there by the corp. The peninsula was a private hotel development which not only created Bio bay but the small shallow east bay facing the mouth of the main bay. A rocky breakwall was constructed from the slabbed pennisula to make a harbor. This harbor is silting in.
Which is to say "what you think has always been ain't necessarily always was!"
The bio algae are nice but can be seen in other parts of the bay and the only thing endangered is the very few number of people who bother to go see them. Personally I much prefer to kayak out into the mouth of the open bay and watch the sea turtles feeding and coming in and out.
Having scuba dived the SR canyon dozens of times and seen first hand the lack of abundant sea life which the old time divers lament, I would welcome more attention by researchers. Their presence might also scare off the illegal trawlers stripping our waters. One dive shop owner told me she sees them from her house above SR bay.
Neil: What did you mean when you said “I give myself away”? My agenda is on the table, I’m striving to make it as clear as possible.
Universities are supposed to be in the education business, not the real estate business. My hope is that the real motivation behind MREC is educational and that they are, as they say, deeply committed to promoting the paradigm of sustainability. If so, they should be willing to re-consider the location of their campus to spare our National Natural Park. I would say this move would have no bearing on the educational value of the program, but that is not exactly true, because it would enrich the program by giving the kids a bio bay to discover and research. Let’s be honest, it would impress the socks off of a bunch of kids from Jersey!
Do I think this program is valuable and do I want to see research brought to our islands along with the funding accompanying it? Absolutely, without a doubt, YES. When we go to the doctor to fix a broken arm, he doesn’t ask us to sacrifice a leg in exchange for fixing the arm. Likewise I don’t believe we need to sacrifice the eastern shores of the bay in order to have the MREC.
Your right, “What you think has always been ain’t necessarily always was,” but I don’t think that should stop anyone from becoming an environmentalist and fighting to retain a greenspace. Why this greenspace? Well I think I’ve provided a host of answers to that question, but here is one more a la DPNR :
“This area is of great importance for its natural and cultural resources, and has witnessed the entire span of human history in the West Indies . . . the representation of these periods in this small geographical setting is a unique occurrence in the West Indies and of international interest.” “Salt River Bay and Watershed (APR) Area of Particular Concern (APC),” p.35.
So Neil, now “give yourself away” and tell me why you think the MREC absolutely has to be on the eastern shore.:-)
You say that I have "grossly overstated the neglect."
That statement on its own merits is just laughable.
Your statements about the condition of the property indicate to me that you really haven't spent much time ON and around the property, or read some of the historical documents about the area. I have...many many times. I have sat down with locals, local historians, and read the archives.
When I wrote that you were "giving yourself away", I was referring to this comment of yours:
Why are we to believe students must live in a resort-like setting in order to be able to study the bay?
A. The proposed facility has dorms.
B. The "students" will include graduate researchers and professors.
C. Where do you propose they live to study the bay and keep their research boats? Christiansted?
Check your charts. There are no other harbors nearby. Yes, they could build a dock at the marina, but that is private land and it's usually full.
There's no room for a reasonably large facility that's nearby the water --anywhere along the northshore road there. None.
Are you aware that the Salt River Bay, underwater canyon and adjacent reefs are some of the most studied reefs in the Caribbean? It was the site of the longest running underwater habitat project in history. I've read the reef reports (strange I know, but they're online). They are a wonderful snapshot in time taken before Hugo. Studying that area 30 years later will yield a wealth of research into the PRIMARY questions facing the ocean, and that is the destruction of reef ecologies and collapse of fisheries.
And when you get the time, go to the Marine Research facility run by UVI on STT. I've been there. It's not a resort. And it's right on the water where they need to be with a flotilla of research boats for all their projects. Indeed, students have numerous experiments in the water at the facility.
Imagine the money and taxes and attention that will pour into the island economy from this project.
All the points presented are valid, but why must it be one side of the argument or the other. We can have it ALL!!!
There is enough room to construct the research buildings and docks need adjacent to the existing marina.
The existing businesses could easily be provided rental spaces in the new buildings ground floors along with dorms, labs, meeting rooms, etc. located on the floor above.
How wonderful it would be for the public (and tourist) to walk, dine, or boat within the research center. A small complex of West Indian Style buildings could become the "town center" of the bay leaving open land, water, and vistas for all of us to enjoy.
All that is needed is a talented Architect....and money!
MGW... your suggestion that there is "enough room" next to the marina is NOT correct.
The MREC feasibility study found many objections to the west site.
The marina and gold coast company directly butt up to a known and important archaeological site.
When you drive the road alongside the marina out to the Columbus Landing site, you are driving on top of the site of the Carib/Taino village which Columbus visited. It has been dug. The reports are online. And, there is a large area of mangroves along the shoreline. The marina itself is full of boats and is home to a large stand of mangroves which are a nesting area for many of the areas birds. St Croix has few enough good marinas. Dropping a dozen research vessels and facility on top of one of them isn't a good idea.
Please READ the actual documents regarding the proposed facility.
Options have been researched. Environmental studies have been done.
It has been approved by Gov agencies and Universities. They are in the fund raising stage.
Please note that the report states that the east side does have some evidence of pre-historical presence (broken pottery, shells). Virtually every part of St Croix's coastline does. Other past surveys of the east side, however, did not find significant evidence, and since then the area has unfortunately been repeatedly disturbed by development attempts. Indeed, the unnamed bluff there has terrace tracks where a condo unit was said to have once been planned. Whereas the west side is a known archaeo village.
One question I do NOT see addressed in the reports is the need for further dredging of the SR Bay channel. It's narrow, allegedly narrowing and tricky.
For those interested in the Archaeology of the east side of Salt River Bay, download the archaeological survey from 2007 at http://www.doi.gov/oia/saltriver/documents/upload/SARI_Archeological_Investigation_2007.pdf
Among many other interesting things, and a great summary of pre-historic populations on the island and Hemer's Pennisula (Judith's Fancy), the report includes a 1958 map of the SR Bay prior to the changes in the coastline which clearly show a saltwater pond where Bio Bay now exists. The report rightly speculates that the pond was historically created to mine salt by evaporation.
Interesting footnote: There used to be a homemade dredge barge tied up down at the end of Triton Bay. I believe this is the same barge that was converted into the Heiniken barge.
Told you it was an obsession! (I go now)
The St Croix Archeological Society and museum used to be in C'sted next to Lenny's on Company Street - they were an amazing wealth of accurate/scientific research info and I think that they may well be able to add to Neil's excellent precis of the situation - if they are still in operation.
This is their website
Neil thanks for the link, I am unfamiliar with this document and I will begin reading it today. I have, however, already read the "Salt River Bay and Watershed Area of Particular Concern" and it tells a different story.
This is the link for this document: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/lib/CREWS/Cleo/St.%20Croix/salt_river87.pdf
P76 shows A map of Salt River and all the archeological areas within it, (Use the computer navigational page numbers instead of the printed ones, it’s easier) Included in the Eastern side it shows the following sites: Prehistoric Sites: Cabo de las Flechas, two areas of Indian Burial grounds/ settlements (entire general area), And the 1493 Skirmish Site.
Here are a few quotations from the body of the document:
On the bay's east side, an Amerindian burial ground, in use between A .D . 66 and 1015, is located adjacent to Cabo de las Flechas, and "may be the most significant find this nature in the Caribbean" (NPS, 1990) . p.26
The first bloody encounter between Amerindians and Europeans occurred at the same time off of Cabo de las Flechas. An excursion party from the Columbus fleet engaged in a skirmish with Amerindians while returning to their ships anchored off the western half of the entrance to Salt River. Thus, the skirmish site itself, although not a geographically defined site, is an historic site of educational interest. P. 27
Cabo de las Flechas has been disturbed by land use and development which perhaps have affected prehistoric deposits . Pre-Columbian sites and burials are known to occur within the area of the proposed Virgin Grand hotel (NPS, 1988) . The burial site in question has been estimated to date back to A .D. 1150 and is a highly significant site (NPS, 1990) . In addition, the proposed construction of condominiums as part of the same development threatens a 17th-century English village site . p.35
*Construction for The Virgin Grand project was never started.
In addition to the five-acre Columbus Landing Site, at least two areas within the Park should be given priority status for acquisition or conservation easement : (1) the Amerindian archaeological site on plot 326 of Estate Judith's Fancy (owned by Sugar Bay Land Development Ltd.), and (2) a major "multi-component" archaeological site located on plot 33 of Estate Morningstar (owned by Columbus Bay Marina). These two sites were discovered during archaeological work in the latter half of the 1980's by the National Park Service as part of the Alternatives Study and Environmental Assessment for the Park, and should be considered as especially significant archaeological sites in need of protection . The purchase of land for scenic vista points or for open/green space should be seen as an additional early goal .p37
I'm loving these links, guys! Thank you!
As usual in these cases it seems to me that all the deals have been made and all the "community input" taken into account by the time people actually start to find out what's going on. Too bad the old Fairleigh Dickinson site can't be refurbed so the the accidental Bio Bay can remain. If only the govt didn't have to deal with private owners wanting to be paid for their land...
Does this mean they'll finally get rid of the SS Cumulus? Is it still full of rusty cars?
StX: Whether or not we support the MREC plan, I think there is one thing we should all be able to agree on and that is the fact that the community involvement on this project was inadequate. The only "public" invitational meeting for the project occurred in 2006. The EA wasn't even released until 2009 and the MREC proposal wasn't released until even later. We sill do not have a final plan. So the community has "approved" a plan that it has never seen and they did so almost a decade before it is supposed to be implemented. I, for one, think this sort of sucks. I found out about the MREC as a result of searching all over the internet for days to discover what was going on down there. Interestingly enough, you could search NPS website and find absolutely no mention anywhere of the MREC. The same was true for UVI, Rutgers, UNCW, and USC. I asked around and no one had any idea what I was talking about. This decision is a huge decision and it will be our legacy to generations to come. This is the sort of thing that I believe we have a moral imperative to discuss. I wish more people would chime in with their thoughts and feelings on the matter, whatever they may be.
I'm all for the MREC plan. We need more projects like this on STX if they're not going to build resorts and hotels.
At least its something.
Neil, thank you for your enlightening information about the existing marina and it's archaeological digs. I do have a few questions for you to help me understand....
Is the existing marina car parking lot, Pirates Tavern restaurant, and the dive shop on top of the Taino settlement?
If so, was this settlement the "main or largest" native settlement on the bay? OR just one of many settlements on the bay?
Again, thank you!
Aham: The "burial mound" mentioned in the old report turned out to be yet another common shell midden. Read the actual archaeological report done in 2007....commissioned by the NPS. Will bones be found someday? Probably. The area has hundreds of years of human occupation. Maybe they'll find Knights of Malta bones. They ran the place for a short time too.
The island has unmarked graves all over.
MGW: while most of the dig sites were done closer to the beach, reports would suggest that the village extended around the bend into what is now the marina. Prior to it being a marina it was an inlet, a natural harbor, and as we all know after a storm, a freshwater gut. I've read that most of that dig area was subsequently filled with dredge. And we need to remember that MANY settlements and plantation operations were also using the area for the same reason the West Indians used it. The prominent earthen fort being one prime example. Sugar Bay got its name because it was a shipping terminal for cane.
Hello all, here is an overdue update on the proposed Salt River Development.
On Thursday Oct. 18th there was an article on the front page of the Avis.
When asked about destroying the bioluminescence of the bay, David Goldstein was quoted saying “We’re not going to put the dock there if it is going to effect the bio bay.” He went on to say that UVI was going to use the bay to conduct an 18 month study on bioluminescence. How cool is that?
Goldstein also said that unfortunately the time for public comment on the project has ended and indicated that there was no real opposition to the project back at the 2006 meeting. So I went back and I read all the public comments that were submitted from the 2006 meeting. What I found was surprising. First of all, there were only 24 people at the meeting. Of those who submitted opinions, 7 were in support of placing the project on the eastern shores and 8 were either opposed to the project entirely or opposed to placing it on the eastern shore specifically and most favored the alternative southern location. (3 people submitted comments that couldn’t be tallied one way or another because they were off-topic). Not only were more people against the eastern development site than for it, the extent and tone of the disapproval on this side was definitely the strongest. So why have the concerns and objections of these people been completely dismissed?
Again it was stressed that the final plan was not completed, but additional information did come to light as to what we could expect. Like green roofs (great addition) and only 2 dorm rooms (as opposed to 10-14).
Goldstein also said the students living at the site would be requires to volunteer at local schools—12 to 18 hours a week! In undergraduate terms, this is like a part-time job. Of course this level of engagement and commitment of outreach in our schools would be nothing short of miraculous. I sure hope it comes to fruition, but I cannot help feeling that it is too good to be true as it is a lot to expect from an undergraduate.
Lastly, Joel Tutein said the footprint of the site would be 61,000sf of buildings over six acres. Admittedly less than the 8 acres quoted in the MREC plan, it is still not, as he claimed “smaller than it was in the beginning,” if by the beginning he means the EA, which claimed 35, 000 sf (EA p.32).
Also on Thursday, the Caribbean Country station dedicated their “Environmental Thursday” segment to NPS with guest NPS rep Bento Vegas Jr (sorry if this spelling is incorrect). The first caller, who has lived here for 50 years, reminisced about how her family used to have picnics on the shore before the area was closed off with huge chain link fencing. She wanted to know how NPS could justify closing the area off to locals all this time, telling them they could not use the park, but opening the area for use by a group of off-island students. Why is it OK for them to use this land when it has not been OK for the citizens of St. Coix to use it for so long? (This was basically what she said).
There were also objections to the dubious necessity of having so many people (upwards of 100) move into the areas for residence. Vegas kept referring to the MREC as a “museum,” which was confusing and misleading in the mind of another caller. Still another caller echoed a similar objection to using such important land as the location for full time residence facilities and asked, why the students were not housed in Christiansted instead. Imagine what this would do for the economy of our island to have 100 students and researchers suddenly take up residence in Christiansted. In addition to making the downtown a booming center of activity and massively supporting the business there (and drawing more to come), it would also attract attention to make the streets safer and more enjoyable for everyone. God knows there are plenty of empty buildings that could be renovated. As opposed to the current location, where there are no stores at all. (Personally I love real college towns, where the university interweaves the downtown.)
An interesting thing Vegas said was that “the project was not written in stone.” He even indicated that there would be some room for amendment to the plan. He also said NPS wanted to make the marina facility of Bio Bay the major base for all NPS boating activity, servicing Buck Island and everything else. He cited “convenience” as the major reason. I fail to see how Bio Bay is more convenient to get to Buck than Christiansted, but there you go. This would indicate that the boat traffic in and out of the Bay would be even grated than the demands of 120 scuba tanks worth of diving per day. It would become the major thoroughfare for all NPS activity.
That's all good news, thanks Aham.
The dock could certainly be moved out of Bio bay to the south side of the peninsula. Hope they don't put it in the bay on the northside of the old hotel peninsula, though that was created as a harbor. I've seen terns nesting on the beach there, and the bay is very shallow.
There's also an old channel cut into the east side of Triton Bay going towards the hill where a former developer was said to be putting a boat dock some time ago. It's overgrown now, but you can see it from the air.
re: fencing and students.... they probably had it fenced because of the ruins and construction debris. Wasn't safe.
Aham...what a wonderful idea to revisit the idea of using Christiansted as the location of the new "research center". There are many many many existing historic and modern buildings on the waterfront of the main harbor and Gallows' Bay harbor that could easily be restored or converted for research use...and plenty of marina space for all the boats needed.
This new use of existing buildings could have a HUGE positive benefit for our little city and bring the biggest change to Christiansted since the arrival of Hess Oil money to St. Croix. Just look at the renaissance of the historic Savannah, Georgia with the founding of SCAD... Savannah College of Art & Design. Savannah has exploded with prosperity the last 20 years with this urban college being one of the main catalyst.
We need to leave as much green space around Salt River Bay as possible, and we need to redevelop our historic city back into a thriving community...now we can do both and put our Federal tax money to good use to help our natural and built environment.
Csted is an interesting thought but Salt River is the the halfway point between the west and east ends. Distance by boat is a significant factor. The cost of 8 acres of Csted land is likely prohibitive and acquisition a nightmare.
From what I hear from all my Realtor friends is that half of Christiansted is for sale. I would agree, you are right in regards to the high expense of purchasing and renovating all the older buildings, but I'm sure this urban campus would not cost more than the proposed Salt River location. Some owners are very desperate to sale these vacant building as few potential buyers are on the horizon.
I personally have looked at some of these waterfront properties and a few are enormous in the amount of interior square footage. There are even more buildings available in a block from the water that could easily accommodate housing and food services for the students and researchers. This urban campus could be spread over several blocks of the city, as each building does not have to abut one another to comprise this research center. Another building purchase option is to look at several of the existing operating in-town hotels. A few of them are on the verge of financial collapse and probably could be purchased.
I know frequent boat travels are expensive and tiring in rough seas, so maybe an option would be to dock one of the several research boat used at Salt River Bay and one at the east end Yacht Club and keep the rest docked in-town. I guess the different research programs and projects would determine seasonal need and location of vessels used.
I'm personally so excited for St. Croix that we are finally getting a center of marine research...no matter where the final location.
So I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if MREC were located in Christiansted and the more I think about it, the more excited I become at the prospect. I’m starting to believe that this move could save our island in a profound way and create a renaissance period for our future. It also speaks to me as being exactly the sort of thing NPS and major educational institutions should be joining hands to create.
In the “about us” section of the NPS website, they discuss the honorific nickname that has been bestowed upon them as “America’s Best Idea” and what filling those immense shoes really means. http://www.nps.gov/americasbestidea/
Ultimately “America’s Best Idea” was to provide an advocating voice for nature in the form of the National Park Service and although it’s sad to think we live in a world where this voice plate would ever be necessary, that the hand of humankind would need to be restrained from destroying the natural beauty of our earth, it’s also awe-inspiring to think that, at the height of our moral and intellectual achievement, there remains a sense of humility, a reminder that our compulsion for progress, no matter how well-intentioned, can sometimes be misguided. Now this is a radical idea indeed.
So, with this in mind, I’ve begun to compile a rough list of reasons why we should seriously consider locating the MREC in Christiansted. This list is certainly far from being complete and I welcome both suggestions and constructive criticism. Remember, I’m just brainstorming here.
Benefits to Community of St. Croix
• Economic boom: supporting the businesses downtown and drawing many more to invest and set up shop. More shops and restaurants that would benefit the community twofold by creating more jobs and sources for income as well as more shopping and dining choices to enjoy.
• Occupation and use of some of the abundant abandoned buildings, a major boost to the aesthetics of the downtown.
• With the influx of people and shops downtown, a renaissance would be born here on island. The local people would be more encouraged to enjoy the downtown as well.
• With increased presence and prosperity comes increased security and safety.
• The artifacts museum would be accessible and enjoyed by locals and tourists on a much greater scale.
• The preservation and promotion of the historical buildings downtown would take on new importance.
• All of the Salt River Bay residents would be spared the light and noise pollution of the MREC, especially preserving the quality of life and security of those living in Judith’s Fancy.
Benefits to NPS
• Locating the MREC in Christiansted could effectively save our entire island. This would not only repair NPS’S tarnished reputation on St. Croix, it would elevate them to the role of exemplar for other cities around the world.
• They can protect our sacred park areas and facilitate the use of them in ways that does not destroy them, while teaching others about the value of significant cultural and historical greenspaces.
• Fulfilling the vision of the park service: (1) Care for the environment by saving species, reducing our carbon footprint, and protecting our ecosystem, (2) promote the preservation of history though sustaining places, sharing stories, and conserving artifacts, (3) revitalizing communities, encouraging historic preservation, promoting health, and celebrating heritage, (4) invite stewardship by nurturing the connection between nature and the public.
• Having the MREC downtown would provide the park service with students to assist them in multiple facilities needed for running, maintaining, and providing tours of the archeologically significant areas of downtown.
• Wonderful growth potential for the Park Service. The students and the rangers could expand new educational and tourist venues, like guided boat tours around the island.
• With next year’s astronomical hike in mooring fees (a sliding scale from 300 – 700%) many boat owners will be unable to maintain their moorings, this will free up the harbor for NPS to use. (not that I think this is a good thing, it’s just the reality)
• Closer proximity to Buck Island and the East End Marine Park (the two primary places the park service visits by boat to patrol and monitor).
Benefits to the Universities
• The Universities would be investing in a sustainable program that is loved and appreciated by the people of St.Croix, without taking away park land from the public.
• They would actually own the buildings they are paying for and managing
• They would not have to pay to build a massive road to reach the site. It’s simple economics: using pre-existing infrastructure is much more cost effective than creating a town of 100 out in the middle of an isolated, undeveloped estuary.
• By far the smartest investment for their money. The buildings would become much more valuable over time with the introduction of the center.
Benefits to Students and Researchers
• Instead of being stranded without transportation 20 minutes away from town, students would have access to shops and nightlife
• Immersion in local culture
• Walking access to taxi depot
• Parents and friends would be encouraged to visit as they could stay nearby and enjoy the island together.
• Proximity to the Roseway (if we get her back) as well as a host of other educational and volunteer opportunities
Benefits to Future Sustainability
• Increased sustainability for the program: the program will succeed because it will be so popular with students, researchers, and the local community. The better the island, the more attractive it will be for others to come here. Placing MREC in Christiansted would revitalize our community, making it that much more attractive for others to come and visit.
• Sustainability of our precious environment and the species who live in it. The best way to look to the future of our island is not by paving over paradise to make way for development, but rater by preserving that which makes us truly rich, the magnificent beauty of our natural landscapes and the health of our waters.
• Sustainability of the town
• The paradigm of sustainability tells us we should use what is available to us before disrupting virgin soil and building everything a new.
So this is what I can come up with off the top of my head over a cup of coffee, but I would love to hear what everyone else thinks. I would love nothing more than to see then our wonderful island become more financially prosperous and safe. Our quality of life depends on it and I hope many of you will feel compelled to chime in to share your thoughts!
I think using some of the abandoned properties in Christiansted to make the educational compound is a great idea. It would mean starting over with architects, etc., but it just makes more sense environmentally and for boosting the livelihood of the island. Of course the government would need to help out with permitting and allowing the use and modification of some potentially historic architecture.
There are at least two dive shops that make the trip to Salt River from Christiansted almost daily. It's not that far.
just to clarify... this is a NPS project not UVI
Aham, your list is well-intentioned, but it doesn't fit this project.
1. The facility is not intended as a tourist attraction. It's a research facility and educational facility for the students.
2. While boats from Csted can make it to the SRB in about 30-40 minutes, it would be an extremely long haul for boats to make it farther up towards Hams Bluff and around to the west side. Locating the facility at SRB puts them at the halfway point between two important reef systems.
3. There is a limited amount of waterfront and harborage in Csted.
4. Placing a large tax-exempt facility in the city removes income producing land from the tax rolls.
5. The NPS already has a Csted presence and mission which is entirely unrelated to marine science.
What you say about the need to revitalize Csted is all very valid. But dumping two dozen students in Csted coming for marine research isn't the answer.