Proposed Coral Bay Marina Getting More Attention

coral bay harbor

The proposed Coral Bay marina is getting more attention this week as a well-respected environmental awareness group posted about the controversial project on its website Monday.

Mission Blue is a nonprofit organization comprised of more than 50 ocean conservation groups and likeminded organizations. The organization works to ignite public support for a “global network of marine protected areas.” Mission Blue posted the following information on its website Monday:

Coral Bay in St. John is Threatened by a Mega Marina

We’ve received lots of inquiries from residents and lovers of St. John and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the past weeks regarding a mega marina called Summer’s End that is pending approval for construction in Coral Bay. There is great concern for the environmental impact of the project on the local reefs and species (such as the endangered Green Sea Turtle), as well as belief that the regulatory bodies and government officials whose job it is to safeguard these habitats have vested interests in seeing the construction go through. We encourage our community to form their own opinions regarding this mega development in the pristine waters of St. John. To help inform the debate, provided below are direct unattributed testaments from concerned St. John residents.

Mission Blue believes in the protection of pristine, vibrant marine ecosystems to preserve the value that the ocean offers all life on earth instead of using their resources for short-term economic gain. If you want to help in the fight to prevent this development from taking root, consider supporting the Coral Bay Community Council. You can make donations, offer your time or contact them with questions here.

In the fight to reverse ocean decline, every voice counts. Don’t be shy to add your own.

The community’s panic stems from the fact that the principals in the mega yacht marina have been trying for many years to get it permitted, each time ever larger. They are confident this time primarily because the three standing members of the CZM (Coastal Zone Management) board are all childhood friends with the acting chairman of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, Bob O’Connor, a key principal. (It was Bob O’Connor and one of the CZM members who secured leases on the property — not all three CZM members. The member who has an interest recused himself leaving only two members to decide the outcome. The recused member sat in on the meeting so there would be a quorum.) They have secured 50-year leases on all the bordering properties.

Secondly, one of the CZM members is an investor in the project. The board only has these members instead of the usual five. The Governor has refused to appoint any others that have volunteered. He also supports this marina.

Everyone here knows there will be no economic gains – the excuse they all are using; in fact a genuine case can be made for significant economic damage. Lost in all of this, to our outrage, is the bay/harbor will forever be destroyed. Furthermore no matter what evidence is submitted, the CZM members do not have to read it or give it any credence.

Brief synopsis of where we are in the process:

1. Applicants have filed with the Coastal Zone Management board; public hearing was conducted on Aug 20; public comment period is now closed … CZM decision meeting will be sometime around end September (should be within 30 days of Aug 20 but time period may be extended a bit until the two eligible CZM commissioners are back on St John).

2. Application could be approved, approved with conditions, or denied by CZM. In any of those cases it could be appealed within 45 days to another VI board, and then following that appeal to a judicial appeal. 3. The Governor will need to approve the use of the submerged Trust Lands, and the Legislature will need to ratify the Governor’s approval. All of this (if it gets that far) will probably happen after the new territorial government is elected and seated in January.

4. In parallel, an application has been filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I don’t believe they are actively processing it yet, and it has many hurdles to overcome before they can even deem it complete. NOAA and NFWS have both expressed strong reservations.

5. The location is quite possibly the worst place to locate a marina in Coral Bay Harbor – on the windward side, exposed to the southeast to open ocean, atop lush sea grass beds, prime marine turtle forage habitat, several federally listed endangered coral species within the project area … and in this totally unsuited location the developers want to extend a pier almost 1000 feet into the harbor, drive 1333 pilings into unknown substrate, provide slips for mega yachts up to 210 feet in length, construct 145 slips for 10,000 feet of boats. Dolphins are regularly seen in and about Coral Bay, migratory whales pass just outside the harbor, and in the adjacent water of Hurricane Hole is found one of the most healthy and prolific coral nurseries in all of the Virgin Islands – a real treasure. Hurricane Hole is protected by the National Park, but threatened by the pollution, sediments and disruption of the aquatic environment that this marina poses.

6. The sonic impact of pile driving, while intensely annoying to humans, can be life threatening to marine turtles, dolphins, and other species. It will undoubtedly severely impact our local economy, which is almost entirely based on the appeal of Coral Bay as a quiet, laid-back, ecotourism destination.

7. Coral Bay harbor, although impacted by sediments from upland construction, still has excellent water quality. It has been declared “Essential Fish Habitat,” with the marine meadows and fringing mangroves providing nursery habitat for lemon sharks and blacktip sharks. U.S. Fish and Wildlife has specifically recommended that the CZM permit not be issued for the current application. The construction and operation of this proposed mega yacht marina would irreparably damage Coral Bay, very likely cause impacts to the adjacent National Park waters, and have unknown but potentially significant impacts to the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

All in all, an ill-conceived project promoted by off-island investors whose objective is to exploit a small corner of paradise for their own selfish interests.

This is clearly a hot topic both on and off island. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this pans out…

23 thoughts on “Proposed Coral Bay Marina Getting More Attention”

  1. Mission Blue is an awesome organization. Founded by noted oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, one of the aquanauts of Tektite II in Lameshur Bay in 1970, it seeks to draw attention to the perils facing marine habitats, and to establish protected areas. I would encourage everyone to watch the new Netflix documentary, “Mission Blue”, which examines the fate of the oceans, as seen through the eye of Dr. Earle for over seventy years. The tailer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1wp2MQCsfQ

    All the best,


  2. What happens, if NO ONE is listening and this “thing”, this proposal, goes through?
    Summer’s End, 7 phase proposal, calls for $100 million in expenditures, over God knows, how many years…
    There should be an escrow account established (5% of their total proposal…$5 million) by Summer’s End, to assist in clean-up, for the eventual disaster that we all know will take place some day.
    Summer’s End can take interest on that money over, let’s say 10 to 15 years.
    After that time period, the escrow account will be mute.
    Hopefully, all this (the proposal) will not take place, but if it does, an escrow account such as this, will be necessary. Insurance on that level takes too long and clean up, should be done immediately.
    Where will “Summer’s End” be, when disaster strikes?
    The environment will beg us to recover as soon as possible!
    I can’t imagine 1333 pilings, “stabbed” into this bay, I have called home for many years…
    Cross all fingers!!!
    CZM, Army Corp of Engineers, are you listening???

  3. Yes, Coral has a unique charm of the 60’s and we all should preserve it. I think if we could connect with celebrities that are now for the preservation of endanger species and waters, all over the world. Does anyone know or have friends that know personally Jimmy Buffett, Richard Branson just to name these two, that could help the Coral Bay residents on this important life threatening issue ? Also, Please ck. the ‘Trip Advisor’ for great comments of visitors that love it’s atmosphere and want to keep it that way.. Yes, we all need to work together on this… let’s get the World to know about it… Let’s pull everyone’s connections together and we will keep Coral Bay as it is…
    Thank you.
    Cap Frenchie

  4. While this project will likely be approved by the local government officials (who obviously should have recused themselves due to conflict of interest), there’s no way the Army Corps will approve this project. The Environmental Impact Statement analysis will take years to complete, and if the US ACE has any impartial scientists left on staff, this project will get denied.

    Please keep us informed of the latest, but I am confident this project will not happen.

  5. Has anyone sent a direct copy if this to Kenny Chesney ??? He loves St John . Maybe if you can get a celebrity in on this, it could gain some following to protest . It can’t hurt to try to get him to help . This marina will destroy all that St John is about .

  6. I find this post interesting, I will take a different position….
    How do you think the native blacks and newly black transplant would look at this project??? Maybe jobs for them and their kids… A much needed for those on the lower pay skill list…

    I would bet most of you that do not see this project as favorable to you are white transplants from the continental US and else where…

    …. I myself will state… I am not for the project.. There is too much marinas in the Virgin Islands and too much other unwanted non local projects that take away the resources and natural beauty of the lands..

    The natives have lost and run like flies when the non local retired transplants came in like waves and drove up the cost of land food and other goods…

    So now… Who is trying to preserve what?? For who??

    Let me get some feed back..

    • You’ve never lived here, have you? The government drives up the cost of land, food and other goods all on its own. Here’s some feedback: no local will want to see this project unless it enriches them personally and obscenely, and most would sell out in a heartbeat.

  7. I haven’t heard people referenced as “blacks” since my childhood that was from white trash side of the family growing up in the south. Yea sure the mob movies always use the word but that’s a movie and it was I suppose acceptable. I think that word is more concerning than the marina. Point taken dude but man get your shit together. Natives would of been fine or how about West Indians. You sound like ignorant red neck. You clearly are caucasian, no?

    • Why are you speaking about Race in that fashion? Jay? Are you concerned about the word “blacks” or the Negroes? Black in english or black in spanish same meaning. But the original people who were brought to the our beloved Virgins were called Slaves of Africa. There were African. Which we still have historic plantations ruins to this very day. People like to use those ruins for photo ops. However to concern yourself with the real name of a race of people who actually are of different ethnic backgrounds like Italians or Irish is unfair. So generalization of human beings that were enslaved is just as redneck as Joe. Please check yourself before you make random statements. Do we know that Joe is a redneck? Cause guess what Duck Dynasty is considered Rednecks and they have a black and half white grandchild. So who is a true redneck? Who is a true negro or black? This island was BUILT on the Backs of Slaves….and we have to this day…the slavery plantations to prove it. but the local population of black islanders is gone! IS THAT JUSTICE? NO! Have a blessed day! 🙂

    • Then you, too, haven’t lived in the Virgin Islands. “Some black guy” or “dat white guy” is often used in conversations between everyone.

    • Jay, I think the word is “locals” not natives! The boats that permanently anchor in Coral Bay dump waste into the water year round. How about getting that stopped!!

      • Any overboard discharge from vessels is, and has been proven repeatedly in many jurisdictions, NOTHING compared to nitrogen and bacteria runoff from the land side developments. The V.I. has no soil standards for putting in a septic system, and with lots as small as 1/4 acre, which is 50% of minimum lot size on non-municipal sewage in ANY jurisdiction, you have runoff. The contribution of liveaboard vessels is negligible compared to the McMansions, the subsidized housing in particular and other non-point sources. Got 1/3 acre? Your filtration system for your septic is too small. Get educated.

  8. This will bring economic development to CB? It seems like it would be obvious that the real economic future of CB lies with the attraction the natural beauty of a preserved bay will bring. This will of course increase over the time and the people of CB will all benefit from their preserved jewel. If it is developed the stunning vistas will be basically ruined and the attraction of CB and the East End will diminish and the area will decline. This out of scale marina will mostly bring economic impact to the pockets of the parties involved with developing the project. If it goes through the bay will look like the rendering which is unimaginable. It seems bizarre that this is being considered.

  9. Jay42 and Elesheva, you know what’s much worse then calling people “blacks” or “Negroes”? It’s a term I’ve heard on TV and other media recently and it just reeks of political correctness and bleeding heart liberal thinking. Are you ready? “people of color”. I swear, it’s the new way of describing “black” people, Hispanic people or anyone else who doesn’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Talk about racist!

    PS I always thought the term “Negro” was a regal, proud sounding name for blacks…oops, sorry, African Americans. The first letter is even capitalized for God’s sake!

    • I’ve heard some other descriptive terms for those various peoples come out of the mouths of right wing whackos on a regular basis. Not nearly as bland as those politically correct bleeding hearts’ terminology.

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