V.I. Delegate Donna Christensen, who sits on the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, convened the hearing to discuss her proposal to authorize the Dept. of the Interior to lease V.I. National Park land for the project. (H.R. 53)
A representative of the V.I. Education Department said it would like to have 10 acres to build a campus including classrooms, cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium, according to a report of the meeting in the Virgin Islands Daily News. A member of a group called One Campus testified saying it preferred 55 acres.
The big question is, of course, where is the land. For years, Friends of the Park have endorsed a land swap, whereby the V.I. government would deed islands or cays it owns in exchange for land at Catherineberg, in the middle of the island. Rep. Christensen said St. John residents oppose that idea, and it’s off the table."
Friends President Joe Kessler testified against a land lease. During the hearing, and in a letter to editor of the Daily News,
Kessler he explained a lease would be a "de facto gift … to the V.I.
government and will result in the net loss of National Park property
V.I. senator At Large Carmen Wesselhoft – who seems to love real estate development (i.e. voting for Sirenusa twice) said she’d rather not stop at 10 acres of Park land. According to the St. John Source, she said she wants 200 more acres from the Park for housing because land is too expensive for locals.
In an editorial, the Virgin Islands Daily News urged a go-slow approach to the idea of replacing Sprauve and Guy Benjamin
Schools. "Their existing sites … remain good locations." While the
perceived need for new schools is pressing now, "(it) may not be in
another decade. This is a trend faced by many small towns."
Currently, 304 students attend the island’s two old and
dangerous schools (no matter what the News thinks) in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Another 60 to 70 pupils
commute to St. Thomas by ferry to attend high school there.