Well folks, we’ve given you a couple of updates on Cinnamon Bay over the past few days. Now it’s time to update you on Caneel. Unfortunately just like Cinnamon, not much has happened over there since we’ve last reported on this. So why the update today? Well it’s because we just received a copy of the original Retained Use Agreement from 1983. I found it to be rather interesting, and I think many of you may too.
But first, let’s pay a quick game of catch up for our new readers. As you know, Caneel sustained tremendous damage during Hurricane Irma, and the resort has been closed ever since. Currently, there are no repairs being done. CBI Acquisition, the firm that manages Caneel, stated that it will remain closed until December 2019 (if not longer).
CBI Acquisitions is currently operating Caneel under a Retained Use Estate (RUE), which went into effect on Sept. 30, 1983. The agreement was set to expire after 40 years – 2023. Because there is only five years left of the agreement, CBI Acquisition is seeking an extension. They have stated publicly that they will not rebuild the resort without one. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett introduced a Bill in December 2017 that called to extend the RUE for a period of 60 years. That Bill has created a great deal of contention on both sides.
You may be asking yourself why people wouldn’t want CBI to receive an extension. Well, for many, it’s due to the language in the Bill. (Click here to read it.) For others, it’s because of original intention of the RUE once it expired. The RUE states:
“It is the Grantor’s expectation and intention that at some future time, to be determined by Grantor pursuant to the provisions set forth herein, the Retained Use Estate will be terminated and extinguished in order to carry out the longstanding objective of Grantor that the Premises ultimately be an integral part of the Virgin Islands National Park (the “Park”) under the jurisdiction of the Secretary for the use and enjoyment by visitors to the Park out of outstanding scenic and other features of national significance located both within the Premises and in other areas of the Park. In keeping with this objective, Grantor agree that, at all times prior to the termination of the Retained Use Estate pursuant to paragraph numbers 8 below Grantor all use and maintain the Premises in such a manner that will (a) be consistent with the preservation of such outstanding scenic and other features of national significance and (b) preserve the Premises to the extent feasible in their natural condition for the public benefit, enjoyment and inspiration, subject, however to the right go Grantor to operate guest facilities for the accommodation of visitors to the Park on the Premises as provided for in paragraph numbered 3 below.”
The document was signed by Laurence S. Rockefeller on September 13, 1983.
Ok, so let’s get back to Plaskett’s Bill H.R.4731. Back in March, it passed the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. It now has to pass the full House of Representative, as well as the Senate before it is sent to the President to be signed into law.
(Side note: CBI Acquisition, the firm that currently manages Caneel, spent $330,000 on lobbying in 2017. They spent $215,000 in 2018. According to opensecrets.org, all of that money was spent with regard to H.R. 4731.)
The second session of the 115th Congressional Congress ends during the third week of December. That means if Plaskett’s Bill is not signed into law by then, it’s dead. It will then have to be re-introduced during the next Congressional Session.
And a little more food for thought before we leave you today… 12,427 Bills and Resolutions were introduced during the 115th Congressional Session. Of those, only 244 Bills have been enacted into Law. That’s a mere two percent. And only five percent of the Resolutions passed.
I don’t know what else to say other than it’s going to be a long and drawn out process with this one. And as always, we will continue to keep you updated on any new developments.