The developers of the $100 million Pond Bay resort have been using promotional materials depicting their waterfront as sandy, clean, and bright. Of course, the reality of the beach is something else today. But that's going to change.
Last Friday, the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee voted 2-1 to revise its approval for First American Development Corp.'s project and to allow "enhancement" of the beach. According to reports of the meeting by the St. John Source and the Virgin islands Daily News, the Pond Bay builders will remove rocks and stones, smooth out the sand, remove 'invasive" plants with native species, and prohibit campfires and bright lights on the beach.
First American's request was opposed in letters sent by the Chocolate Hole Landowners Association and the League of Women Voters. About a dozen people attended the hearing.
One CZM member, Gerald Hills, voted against the waiver. One of his concerns was that removing rocks and debris from the beach will mean the existing sand will wash into the water, and when that happens, "it kills things," he said.
Nobody should have been surprised by the CZM decision. In the years and years of planning for the project, no one could have expected the developers would not be asking for the authority to clean up the beach. Driftwood, plastic debris, even old pieces of boats litter the area. No one's going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a waterfront time share, or plan a vacation in one, without a picture perfect beach.