DPNR Issues Notice of Violation for Denis Bay Property

Photo Courtesy of John McQuillen
Photo courtesy of John McQuillen

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.

Below is a map of the property’s location:

Marked Denis Bay Map

Historical Society to build headquarters

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SJHS 2012-2013 President David Knight and SJHS board member Eleanor Gibney, both center, present SJCF President Rob Crane, left, and SJCF board member Lonnie Willis, right, with a check for the Historical Society’s lease of a portion of the Community Foundation’s Estate Bellevue property.

The St. John Historical Society has a 99-year lease on life, or at least on a location for all the materials and archives it’s been assembling over 40 years.

The Society announced it’s secured a lease from the St. John Community Foundation for 6,000 square feet in Estate Bellevue to construct a permanent home.  The cost is $1 a year.

Bellevue is on the east side of Gifft Hill and near the St.John School and a housing project.

“The Society is in immediate need of at least a modest office space and a secure climate-controlled repository for its collections,” said David Knight, president of the Society.

Fund raising will be undertaken to finance construction of the facility.

Knight said he would eventually like to see a library and archive along with a cultural history museum and genealogical resource center.

The Community Foundation received the land from developers of the Bellevue project, Reliance Housing Corp.

There are ruins near the leased land, dating perhaps to the 18th century.  The Foundation is hoping an interpretive trail through the ruins will be developed by the Historical Society.

VI National Park – there’s a fragrance for that


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."

Friends fundraiser gala at $7,000/night villa

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.


Vets’ fundraiser invites tourists


Chaotic Kayakers from last year

Oppenheimer Beach, on the north shore, is a ‘Don’t miss!’ spot for visitors.  Calm water, an inviting beach, and a gorgeous view are reasons why anybody would like to spend some time there.

But Sunday, the 26th, there’s another reason:  There will be live music, beer tents, food from Skinny Legs and Joe’s Rum Hut, raffle prizes and the second annual St. John Chaotic Kayak Race.  Money raised by race entries and race sponsors go to support a group of wounded veterans and their spouses who come to St. John for a week in November.

This is a great opportunity for vacationers to enjoy an afternoon in the sun and to get a first-hand sense of how the island comes together for a very good cause.

The race will feature as many as 25 kayak teams, paddling around the Sadie Sea, a charter boat.  Captain Tom and Amy Larson, its owners, are they are organizing the Warriors event.  It costs nothing to watch.

Other events during the weekend include a pre-party fundraiser at Iguana Grill on Saturday night.  High Tide will have a fundraiser before the event, on the Cruz Bay waterfront beach, and Castaways will have an after-party.

Last year's event raised $20,000 for the Wounded Warriors program.

Hiking trails in the Park get some love

Some of the National Park's most heavily used – and often poorly maintained – hiking trails are getting a lot of attention from eight students and two team leaders this month.  

Under the auspices of the Student Conservation Association, four students from St. Croix and four from the mainland are maintaining trails.

"The crew will be clearing vegetation, building and repairing stone steps, repairing damaged drainage ditches, and removing loose rock" according to the Friends of the VI National Park.  "The effects of thir work will reduce erosion to trails vulnerable to deterioration due to steep slopes, shallow topsoil, and severe rain."

The students began their work June 18th and will finish July 17th.

At the end of the four weeks, the Park will have between six and eight miles of its most opular trails in safe and environmentally sound condition, the Friends said.

The cost of the SCA program is $37,000.  It's being paid by an anonymous donor, according to the St. John Source.  The money pays some of the students, the crew leaders and also covers food and training expenses.

Friends to handle Reef Bay hike signups


According to Gerald Singer, author of the St. John Beach Guide, the Reef Bay hike is one of the 10 best in the Caribbean.  

If you want to go on the hike, there's been a change. You now sign up with the island's Friends of the Park, not the National Park Service. You go to the Friends of the Park's store on the first floor at Mongoose Shopping Center and make your reservation.  You pay $30.  The fee is for transportation from Cruz Bay, by taxi, out to the start of the hike's trail, and the boat ride back along the south shore of the island.

"The problem was that there were a large number of no-shows for the hike," said  Joe Kessler, president of the Friends.  "There were generally many empty places, depriving folks who wanted top go."  Furthermore, charging up front for transportation makes no-shows less likely, he said.  "Since the Park was not charging for the tyrip and didn't want the hassle of colecting the money, they asked us tp help. In the end we might make a few bucks in the process."

During the winter, the hike, led by a National Park Ranger, is offered Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, with the taxi leaving Cruz Bay at 9:30 a.m..

The Reef Bay Hike is a 2.2 mile downhill walk through a shady and moist forest and past four sugar plantations.  It is best known for the petropglyphs (rock engravings) carved by Taino Indians.  For decades, it has been one of the most popular activities in the Virgin Islands National Park.

Previously reservations for the hike were handled by Park personnel.  

Cinnamon Bay Museum near completion



Renovation of the Virgin Islands National Park's museum at Cinnamon Bay appears to be on schedule for a January opening.

This 1680’s historic structure is believed to be one of the oldest buildings that remains standing on the island, most likely built as great house.

Thirty years ago, the waterfront, concrete building was a bare bones convenience store selling hamburger patties, bread and toilet paper.  Then it became the center of archaeologist Ken Wild's excavation along the beach, hosting exhibits of findings and serving as a classroom for interns and volunteers.

Over the past three years, fund raisers have been at work to find money for the project.  Plans are for the Cinnamon Bay Museum to chronicle the island's history from the first arrival of humans (200BC-1000BC) to include the role of the Taino and Carib Indians and the impact of European settlements and commerce.

Parking to get tougher on St. John

CruzbaylotWell, not all "the improvements" the National Park Service has made along the north shore are pleasing.

While Trunk Bay has new lifeguard stations, and there are new walkways through some ruins, it's going to be tougher to get to some of the most popular beaches.

The availability of parking spots at both Maho's beaches and Cinnamon Bay have been reduced.  

At Maho, Rangers have begun issuing tickets to vehicles parked on the shoulder of the road and along the beach.  The Service says it's built a new parking lot, and people should use it.

Meanwhile, at Cinnamon Bay, the Service has signs threatening $175 boot fees for anyone found parking at the Campground's lot and who is not a registered guest.  Folks staying at Cinnamon have to get permits from the front desk which they can then put on their dashboards.

Both moves are likely to have several effects.  First, visitors will be frustrated.  They've got a huge SUV, full of beach chairs and coolers, and nowhere to park it.  Nowhere easy, that is. They'll park it somewhere! Probably along the road, so driving along the North Shore will require a bit more caution.

Second, restricting parking may generate more interest in shuttle buses from Cruz Bay to the beaches. Which, of course, begs the question,where do you park that SUV in CB?  Quick, answer – the parking lot at the Enighed commercial dock.

It's going to be an interesting winter season!

Park Rangers are HOT!

Image003 Both the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park and the StJohnSource are putting the spotlight on Park Rangers.  

The Friends are offering a  free "Ranger in Training Camp" as part of a series of summer eco-camps for children interested in learning about marine and land life.  The Ranger camp begins July 5th and, like the other five programs, it is free for VI residents.

The Source, meanwhile, has published a profile of Dave Horner, a Ranger on St. John since 2006. Horner's background is solid.  With botany, zoology and anthropology degrees from Miami University of Ohio, and completed an assignment in the Pace Corps.

Read morePark Rangers are HOT!