Good Morning Everyone- Hillary here. I have another contributor to introduce to you today who has previously written for NOSJ and brings a vast knowledge of the boating industry and St. John history to the table. Leah Randall Hanson has been on St. John on and off since 2006 and made the transition permanent in 2013 when her father moved down. She is the Commodore of the Coral Bay Yacht Club and co-owner of Flyaway Charters with her husband, Colin. Leah has a passion for snorkeling and diving in the waters of the USVI and a strong interest in the historical sites and stories of St. John.
Leah and Colin have consulted for the VINP on underwater archeological sites as well as the VI State Historical Preservation Office. Here, she shares some On the Water safety tips that will hep protect you, the beautiful waters surrounding you and others who are utilizing that beauty for an equally amazing day! I, personally, am looking very forward to her insights from the Coral Bay and “on the water” perspectives!
Good Morning Everyone! If you have been on St. John during this busy (thankfully!) holiday season, you may have seen some new signs at the entrances to some of the VI National Park Beaches. These signs were installed by the VI National Park in order to promote awareness and education about what you can do to protect the reefs, while enjoying their beauty!
Dreaming about a Virgin Islands vacation? Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park have organized an online villa auction that makes it easy for you to bid to win a safe and socially distanced stay on St. John or St. Thomas!
If you look for Caneel Bay Resort in the news, there unfortunately isn’t much in the way of updates as to the future of the beloved St. John resort. But, one man continues his diligent search for information on ongoing policies, politics and processes that may eventually decide the fate of the establishment that was once one of the largest employers in Love City.
In this first part of two Caneel Bay updates this week, we will give you some background on what has been going on with the property as reported by National Parks Traveler.
Last Thursday we shared a pretty cool picture over on our Facebook page. The picture (above) showed the North Shore Road in 1948.
According to the St. John Historical Society, “the picture was taken by Ronald Morrisette, and the women on horseback are his wife, Sarah Morrisette, left, and Helen Auble (Ms. Auble, a St Thomas resident for many years, gave the picture to [Island Resources Foundation] before her death in the late 1990s). The road is near the bottom of Hawksnest hill, in the distance is the Oppenheimer end of Gibney beach, then called Hawksnest beach. They were passing through the eastern side of the Caneel Bay property, which then stretched from the Creek in Cruz Bay to include the present National Park Hawksnest Beach.”
We found the picture to be so interesting that we sought out to find a few more that we could share all of you. We’d like to extend our thanks to David Whitney Knight, Sr. and Eleanor Gibney for sharing the following pictures with us.
Courtesy of David Whitney Knight, Sr.:
How many of you recognize the pristine beach shown in this picture? According to David Whitney Knight, Sr., it was taken c1949-1950. “The lady in the picture is my mother, Anna, with her dog Spooky; the photographer is my father, Dr. George H H Knight.”
The following images are courtesy of Eleanor Gibney. The descriptions are courtesy of the St. John Historical Society.
“A locally-built cargo sloop lowers sail and prepares to come alongside the Cruz Bay dock, c 1959. Up until the 1970s Caribbean-built cargo vessels such as the “Baby Mac,” “Pride of Tortola” and “Miranda Stout,” were St. John’s primary link to the outside world, carrying everything from fuel oil and livestock to mail and passengers.”
“Caneel Bay, 1959.
One of the original cottages from the late1930s on what is still called “Cottage Point” They were replaced in the early 1960s.”
“The impact of modern development on St. John’s landscape becomes staggeringly apparent when you compare Chocolate Hole today with how it looked in the late 1950s (photographer unknown).”
“The iconic Trunk Bay view–here in a slide by an unknown tourist in 1963. The main building of the former Boulon guesthouse is still very visible on the hill, where it was a popular lunch spot, run by Caneel Bay.”
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) issued a Notice of Violation to the Denis Bay property owner accused of altering the area’s landscape and VI National Park land.
DPNR found that property owner Tony Ingrao violated seven provisions of the VI Building Code including excavating and land clearing on National Park land; failure to secure an earth change permit; building without a permit; violating provisions of permits; and excavations affecting adjoining properties.
According to the Notice of Violation, the Division of Building Permits was notified on May 13 that a landslide occurred on a lower section of the roadway adjacent to plot 2B Denis Bay. Prior to the landslide report, the Division had met with the construction project manager to discuss concerns about possible environmental impacts and hazards created by the site. Mitigations efforts were discussed and it was indicated at the time that they would begin as quickly as possible.
Now that the Notice of Violation has been issued, Ingrao will be required to submit plans and a new building permit application for site stabilization, drainage and any associated structure needed to stabilize the affected area. Ingrao must submit any agreement or mitigation approved by the National Park with regard to the impacted areas. Ingrao is required to notify and receive approval for any work conducted on the recently reopened roadway leading to the property, and upon approval, Ingrao has 45 days to make repairs to that roadway. DPNR also fined Ingrao $10,500 which must be paid within 30 days.
Jamal Nielsen, DPNR Media Relations Coordinator, stated Monday that Ingrao has already implemented corrective action measures, although he did not have specific details on what types of measures have been put into place thus far.
Ingrao is a world-renowned interior designer based in New York City. News of St. John reached out to him Monday, but was unsuccessful.
The makers of Air Wick have gone into business with the National Park Foundation.
St. John may benefit.
"Our national parks provide us with the purest scents of nature," said Jerome Lemaire, marketing director for Reckitt Benckiser, the parent company of the air freshener product. "We are thrilled to be partnering with the National Park Foundation to help our customers bring the outdoors in."
Air Wick has released a line of sprays, aerosols, oils and scented candles inspired by four parks including the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Yellowstone and Glacier Bay.
The VI aroma is described as … "Paradise flowers evoke delightful notes of native Mimosa, Jasmine and White Rose, transporting you to the idyllic tranquility of the Park."
A portion of sales from the products will be donated to the foundation to "directly aid, support and enrich America's nearly 400 national parks and their programs."
Presidio del Mar, a six-bedroom, six-bath villa on St. John’s tony south (earlier we said 'north') shore enclave, Peter Bay, will again be the site for the annual Friends of the Virgin Islands Park gala next February. The multimillion dollar property (It sold for $14 million 14 months ago.) has nine satellite TVs, Viking appliances, air conditioning in all rooms, and is posted on line for rental for $3,300-$7,000 a night.
Joe Kessler, executive officer of the Friends group, mentioned the gala during an appearance at a recent St. John Rotary Club appearance.
He noted the Friends group will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Looking ahead, plans are for the Friends to install 14 more moorings in Park waters, in addition to the 250 moorings already in place. These new moorings, however, will be for what Kessler called larger vessels, presumably luxury 100-foot-plus yachts, another sign St. John is attracting more attention. In a comment on this story, the Friends said uh iuh … maximum will be 100-footers. Economy size 🙂
Kessler also said another activity of the Friends has them ‘diving for gold.’ Well, not exactly, but Friends and Park staffers are hunting for stones used as ballast on a ship which went down near Johnson’s Reef.