St. John plans for constitutional convention

Efforts to increase the ability of St. Johnians to manage their island will get a boost at public meeting December 6 when the Island Council Planning Committee meets at the Legislature Building.  The speaker will be Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, the man behind the plan, approved by the senate, to convene a territory-wide Constitutional Convention in February 2006.  Carole DeSenne, director of the St. John Community Foundation, said the session it o educate the committee about the process and possibilities, according to a report by the St. John Source.  "We all need to work together," she said.

Resorts booking for busy winter season

TourismassnThe Westin St. John is projecting its 282 rooms will be 80 percent occupied during the upcoming season, while Caneel Bay
resort expects to fill 74 percent of its rooms.  The statistics were
released at a recent meeting of the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association,
the St. John Source reported.  St. Thomas’ Holiday Inn
had the most optimistic projection, estimating its 151 rooms will be 87
percent occupied.  The Association’s leadership also outlined
promotional plans for next year, telling members it hoped to invest $1
million marketing the islands to vacations through its Web site, trade shows, and sales presentations on the mainland.

Critics protest gambling at Wharfside

Reaction to our story about the opening of Captain’s Cabin Games and Sports Bar at Wharfside Shopping Mall has been almost unanimous: NOMY (Not on my island!).  Comments about the availability of horse race betting and video lottery terminals on the second floor of the center prompted two suggestions that what was likely to come next would be a Hooter’s bar. 

"We’re building a home on St. John to get away from this sort of low-life garbage," wrote Bill Hoffman.  "This is truly depressing.  I’m not only depressed, I’ve moved on to anger" added Dee.  "I really doubt the paradise worshipers will go for this type of cheap, low class entertainment," added Steve.

However, at least two posts were supportive.  "Get real people," wrote Ronnie.  "It’s inside a building not bothering anybody."  He continued, ominously some might say, "It will only be a matter of time that there will be a real casino … maybe even on St. John."  A comment from SJ said, "I think it is a good idea.  I love horse racing." 

Several calls to the person identified as Wharfside’s manager, for comment, were not returned.

New businesses

Lonnie Willis, a co-owner of the Fish Trap and Stone Terrace restaurants, will open a naturally good idea in the Raintree Mall at the end of December or early January. "You’ll be able to buy all kins of fish, scallops, etc. and Fish Trap Chowder and salads to go for lunch and dinner," he said.  General Manager Christopher Gagnon will oversee the operation.

And the new deli has opened at Mongoose Junction.  Called the Deli Grotto, it began operations at the end of October, headed up by Dan Sheffey.  He’s also been the owner of the wonderful Grateful Deli at Red Hook on St. Thomas.

Real estate update

MlsLots of listing, not much selling.  In the past week, five properties have been added to the Multiple Listing Service.  Three are in Coral Bay, one’s mid-island at Annaberg, and the most expensive is out near Maho Bay – a  4 bedroom/4-bath with pool property on 9 acres, priced at $11.5 million.  That’s the second offering above $10 million.  The other is the $13.9 million 4-bedroom/4-bath Peter Bay Cliffhouse.  Nothing’s come off the MLS, so as of Monday morning, there were 48 residences available, 14 of which are priced under $1 million, and 16 between $1 and $2 million.

Listings are also up for land parcels, a gain of three to 146.  There was one less condominium offering as the list now shows 7 properties.  There was no change for timeshares, 93, or business/commercial properties, 9.

By the way, note that we’ve added real estate ads in the right column.  It’s a natural to be advertised on the News of St. John, as are villa rentals and island services.  If you’d like information about how to market your business here, e-mail frank@newsofstjohn.com.

Coral Bay school teachers protest

Teachers held classes in the cafeteria of the Guy Benjamin school two days this week to protest the transfer of the school’s only special education teacher to St. Thomas.  The teacher had been assigned to work with about six students needing special attention.  The job action was to complain about what they said was a lack of communication from the district superintendent, according to a report in the Virgin Islands Daily News. They tried to contact William Frett, but he did not reply.  Efforts by the newspaper to reach the superintendent were also unsuccessful, nor did Benjamin’s principal, Margaret Bowers, offer a comment.