Changes rile local residents at meeting

Dozens of people who attended a meeting to talk about how St. John could affect a new VI Constitution ended up hearing complaints from native and Caribbean-born residents that they don’t have opportunities.

"The bottom line is we have some racial problems," Monique Matthias told the Island Council Planning Committee session at the Legislature building.  She and other locals complained that the Committee’s work was excluding them, and they didn’t like it, according to a report published by the St. John Source

Matthias said vacation villas include advertisements only for restaurants like the Lime Inn, owned by mainland transplants.  She claimed, "There’s no card for Uncle Joe’s Barbecue," a Cruz Bay eatery known and loved by locals as well as visitors. Grasshopper Pickering said locals can’t get jobs in restaurants and shops.  Another woman said that with commercial space rents going for thousands of dollars a month, she has no chance to sell baskets.

The Committee had hoped the meeting would generate information to create a draft document related to the Constitutional Convention scheduled for 2006.  However, after several hours of discussion, the Source reported,  "The people at the meting voted to scrap (that idea).  It remains unclear how the project will proceed."

Steve Simon’s New Year’s Eve party

EppsSteve Simon, the Great Cruz Bay entrepreneur behind the Jazz in the Moonlight concerts, is planning a year-end gala.  You can "dance to the sweet Jazz sounds of the Caribbean’s hottest Jazz band ‘Steve Simon and the Jazz Islanders’," he announced. "And then sit back and enjoy the amazing ‘Diva of all Divas’, Ms. Maryel Epps, as she brings her R&B inspired Jazz show to St. John (Listen to a sample of Maryel Epps.)" Doors open at 8:30 p.m., tickets are $35. Simon said he’ll be offering, "great music, dancing and an amazing show with free party favors and a free champagne toast at midnight followed by a spectacular Fireworks Show." E-mail him at stevesimon@jazzinthemoonlight.com.

Electricity charge rejected

A rate hike included in bills from the Water and Power Authority has been canceled.  The Public Services Commission said a charge for increased fuel costs could not be justified, according to a report by the Virgin Islands Daily News.  A consultant with the Commission, Jim Madan, called the hike "an enormous increase."  He said material supporting it included a "substantial amount of computational errors."  WAPA has the authority to raise rates when it expects fuel costs to rise.  But, the executive director of the agency, Alberto Bruno-Vega, conceded he expects oil prices will be dropping.  The PSC said it will review WAPA’s calculations at its meeting in January.  The agency estimated that the average residential and commercial bill would increase $6 and $15.

Quake felt on St. John

QuakeAn earthquake measured at 4.5 on the Richter Scale by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network shook the islands Saturday.  Termed a "felt event", the Network’s report said "this moderate earthquake was felt in all of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."  Its  center was about 27 miles north of Tortola, 14 miles beneath the surface of the earth.  Posters at USVI-On-Line said the quake lasted about 20 seconds, while resident Dennis Demar told the St. John Source he thought it was more like 40 seconds.  "Eric" reported feeling earth move at Mongoose Junction, but just a bit, "a slight vibration," he said.  In Coral Bay, resident Brad Felmly said, "We felt it strongly.  It sounded like a freight train coming through. It shook and rattled everything but there is no apparent damage." 

Real Estate update, 12/13/04

The inventory of homes for sale on the island’s Multiple Listing Service increased six percent in the past week, ending with 54 available properties. Three homes were added.  The new residences include a $999,000 3-bedroom/2-bath at St. Quaco & Zimmerman, a 5-bedroom/4-bath with pool house overlooking Contant was re-priced lower by $200,000 at $1.199 million, a Concordia home featuring 3-bedrooms/2-baths and a pool and a $4.2 million 5-bedroom/5.5 bath property with pool at Sans Souci
In the other market segments land offerings decreased by 1 to 147, one condo came off the list bringing the number available now to 6, one timeshare was added to make the total available 94, and there was no change in the number of commercial or business listings.

Real estate update: 12/7/04

A $4.2 million, 5-bedroom/5.5 bath with pool and hot tub at San Souci moved off the Multiple Listing Service this week, but has not been sold.  The property was listed, didn’t move, and so it’s been taken off the market, according to Diana Beam at RE/MAX Island Paradise Realty. "They usually get renewed and placed back on the market," she said in a comment to NewsofStJohn.com.

On another side of the properties balance sheet, two came onto the market, boosting the public listings to 51, up two since last week. This is another high water mark for inventory. Newly-offered are a 3-bedroom/2-bath with pool property at Fish Bay for $1.2 million, and .6 of an acre at Chocolate Hole, offered for $1.75 million – the MLS had no details on the building.

Otherwise, as the inventory of homes swells in advance of the winter season,  land listings dropped by one to 148, while all was unchanged among condominiums (7), timeshares (93) and businesses (9).