Virgin Islands National Park Getting a Name Change

national park sign

The Virgin Islands National Park will no longer hold that title. Instead it will be called the Caribbean National Parks, which in my opinion, is asinine. If you agree with me on this, please attend a hearing on the matter tonight at the Cleone H. Creque Legislative Conference Room in Cruz Bay. Representatives from the National Park Service are expected to be in attendance.

Here is the full story courtesy of the VI Consortium (which is a great publication if you’re unfamiliar with it):

ST. JOHN — Senate President Myron Jackson on Wednesday encouraged concerned residents to attend a public meeting to discuss the sudden reorganization and name change of the Virgin Islands National Park. The meeting, organized by the Virgin Islands Unity Day Group at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Cleone H. Creque Legislative Conference Room in Cruz Bay, St. John, is expected to include representatives from the National Park Service to provide information on how the changes will affect the territory.

“The possible change of name of the Virgin Islands National Park to the Caribbean National Parks and news that superintendents will be located in Puerto Rico is unacceptable in this day and age,” Mr. Jackson said. “This centennial year should be about revisiting the Virgin Islands Park System in addressing the cultural resources, community values, heritage and land issues of the Virgin Islands. Why were we not consulted as a community? Why has the Governor or the Delegate not addressed the community on this drastic change?”

According to Lorelei Monsanto, a member of the Virgin Islands Unity Day group, the territory’s federally-protected land and water resources, the change occurred on July 11, 2017. It calls for what used to be known as the Virgin Islands National Park to now be referred to as the Caribbean National Parks, and for its administrative leadership to be transferred to neighboring Puerto Rico. The move is said to be the initiative of President Donald Trump.

The change brings up potential issues such as the lack of local control and oversight of the territory’s resources, lack of internal cultural resource management, and ambiguity surrounding the employment status of persons under the Virgin Islands National Park, he said.

The area in question consists of 7,259 acres of terrestrial habitat, which accounts for roughly 60 percent of St. John’s land mass, as well as 5,650 acres of adjacent submerged lands, along with ridge tops and reefs. The Park Service has historically been tasked with providing protection and preservation for tropical and migrating birds, fish, corals and other marine life, as well as some 800 species of plants. Holdings under the National Park Service in the territory include land on the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, land on Hassel Island, the Christiansted National Historic Site, Salt River National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, and Buck Island.

“I am also requesting that Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett call public hearings in the Virgin Islands to address our concerns on this decision by federal officials,” Mr. Jackson, a historian and staunch proponent of Virgin Islands culture, said. “These are our islands and our home and we should be fully engaged as to how our resources and future are decided.”

The Virgin Islands Unity Day Group is an organization formed to promote unity, cooperation and togetherness among residents of the USVI by taking action to fight racism, social injustice, and community deterioration with informative educational activities and outreach programs which are positive and inclusive of all segments of the community, according to its Facebook page.

For more information about the meeting, call 776-6285.

We will keep you all posted on the matter.

Chaotic Kayak Happening Sunday – New Location

2017 kayak logo
The Chaotic Kayak race – a charitable event that raises money to bring wounded vets to the island – is happening this Sunday at noon. The event is now happening at Oppenheimer.

The Chaotic Kayak race pits teams from various businesses around St. John – News of St. John included – in against each other in a fun, yet very competitive kayak race. Teams that raise the most money will get a time advantage. We here at News of St. John need all the help we can get, so please if you’re able to donate even just $5, it will help. But more importantly, the more money we raise, the more we can help this very worthy program.

So please, click here to make your tax-deductible donation to Team News of St. John. We’ve already raised $1,960. Let’s see if we can double that!

Thank you in advance everyone!

BVI Implementing Yet Another Customs Increase

customs

Last Sunday we mentioned how the British Virgin Islands was increasing its cruising permit fee by $12 per person beginning August 1st. Well we just learned that there is going to be yet another increase effective September 1st.

We received a message from our friends over at Kekoa yesterday alerting us to a new “environmental levy”. Beginning on September 1st, visitors will have to pay an additional $10 in customs. It’s all part of the British Virgin Islands’ Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act 2017.

This means that within the next two months, people choosing to visit the BVI will now have to pay an additional $24 per person. So it’s pretty likely that a boat that currently charges $45 a person for customs – there are fees to enter the BVI and also to return to the USVI – will increase that cost to about $70.

There are a few exceptions, however, according to BVI News Online. They are:

1. Residents and belongers

2. Non-residents two years old or under

3. Officers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court

4. Guests of the Government

5. Official representatives of the Government of any country/territory

6. Persons accorded diplomatic privileges in accordance with the Diplomatic Privileges Ordinance

7. And persons exempted by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette.

Other exemptions include visitors arriving in the [British] Virgin Islands on a second or subsequent occasion in the course of the same visit, persons in transit who on arrival do not leave the airport or dock, and crew of vessels.

Between the added fees and the time it takes to clear customs – we’ve heard of up to an hour waits lately – I’m think I’d rather stick to US waters.

We wrote about this Sunday and mentioned some options for USVI day trips. Click here to read all about it.

The Beauty Lounge Lists For Sale

beauty lounge

Well folks, here’s another opportunity to own a business in paradise. The Beauty Lounge, a salon and spa located at Wharfside Village in Cruz Bay, just listed for sale. The asking price: $150,000.

Here are the details straight from its listing:

Charming split-level commercial space in world class Wharfside Village. High traffic, busy tourist mall with restaurants, souvenir shops, jewelry stores and more. Private bathroom with two showers. Five year option on lease.

According to the listing, the space is 515 square feet. Rent is $4,300 per month.

An Update on the Caretaker Position at Viers

little lameshur

Last week, we told you how VIERS was looking for an onsite caretaker for the month of September. We learned today that the position has been filled.

We knew this post would pique the interest of a lot of people, but even we were taken about by its reach. Since we posted the story last Tuesday, the Facebook post has reached more than 73,000 people. It was liked 493 times, shared 522 times and received 172 comments. And during that time, our website has had just under 70,000 page views … in less than a week! Unbelievable.

It just shows how many people love St. John. A big thank you to all of you.

Baked In the Sun Closes

baked in the sun

Well folks, it appears that one of our favorite breakfast spots has closed its doors for good.

We heard rumblings last week that Baked in the Sun – the popular breakfast and lunch spot located just past the roundabout in Cruz Bay – was serving its last customer Saturday afternoon due to financial issues. We had hope, however, when we were told one of its employees was asked to come to work Monday morning. But alas, the store is currently being cleared out :(

We will keep you posted on what’s happening with this spot. In the meantime, have a great Monday everyone!