Many of you have been asking us what’s happening over at Cinnamon Bay. As I’m sure you probably know by now, the campground sustained tremendous damage during Hurricane Irma and has been closed ever since. Not only is the area unsightly, but the campground’s continued closure is a blow to our economy as it reduces the number of affordable accommodations here on island. So what’s happening over there? Well unfortunately, not a whole heck of a lot.
For starters, the place is still a mess. The Virgin Islands National Park and its volunteers did a great job of cleaning up the beach itself. They also cleared the parking lot areas, as well as a nice path down to the beach. The campground itself, however, remains untouched. Cleanup in that area is the responsibility of Redwood Parks, the company contracted to run the concessions at Cinnamon Bay. And as of today, they haven’t done a darn thing.
I reached out to Brian Stewart, the president of Redwood Parks, and asked him what’s happening with the campground, specifically why no clean up has occurred. He sent the following to me via email:
“We’ve presented a number of options to NPS that would allow operations to reopen. To date, non have been approved.”
He continued, “We remain hopeful NPS will realize that life on St. John changed with hurricanes Irma and Maria. And that we need to work together to prioritize the restoration of both Cinnamon and Trunk Bay.”
(Redwood Parks was also awarded the concessions contract at Trunk Bay. That, too, remains closed.)
I asked Brian on three occasions to elaborate on his proposals. He never responded.
When I contacted Steve Black, the acting superintendent of the VI National Park, and asked about the proposals, he said he was “not aware of any new proposals that Cinnamon Bay Resort has put forth.”
I then reached out to the National Park Service in Washington, DC. Perhaps they had some insight to share. While they did respond, they really didn’t have any news to offer. Dana Soehn, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, sent us the following:
“As you likely know, Virgin Islands National Park is anxious to resume concession services at the Cinnamon Bay Resort as soon as possible. The Park continues to have a contract with the concessioner who was providing the services before the hurricane and is working with them [to] address cleanup and restoration efforts and getting services services up and running again including food and beverage, recreation, lodging and camping.”
Dana continued, “We don’t have any further information available at this time, but I can assure you that everyone is working hard to find a solution that enables services to return to the Cinnamon Bay Resort area.”
It’s been more than a year since the storm happened, yet twisted metal continues to lay scattered around the campground area at Cinnamon. Boards with nails poking out are strewn about. Trees remain toppled and the destroyed cottages sit untouched. Enough is enough. It’s time to stop talking about how we all want the place cleaned up, and it’s time to start doing, in my opinion.
In July 2016, Redwood Parks was awarded a 15-year contract to operate the campground and concessions at Cinnamon Bay. It officially began on October 1, 2016. They operated it successfully for less than a year; They have not been operating it longer than they had. So at what point does that contract get terminated? Or can Redwood Parks continue to do what its doing, which appears to be very little, if anything, without being in violation of their contract? This little blogger, and many of you I’m sure, would like to know.
We asked the Virgin Island National Park, as well as the National Park Service just that. Unfortunately we have yet to get an answer. But if or when we do, we will be certain to share that info with all of you.
Let’s end this post on a happy note. Check out this pic and quick video we took Tuesday at Cinnamon Bay: