Save Coral Bay: Time to Voice Your Opinions

coral bay overlook

Ok folks, it’s letter writing time. As you all know, there’s a proposed mega marina over in Coral Bay. I’ve been pretty vocal in that I think the project is simply too large for Coral Bay and based on your comments I’ve read here on News of St. John and over on our Facebook page, it seems the majority of you tend to agree. So now it’s time to act.

The next step in the permitting process is a review by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps is currently holding a public comment period. Through the end of the month, you are encouraged to submit letters detailing why you think the proposed marina is a good idea or why you think it’s a bad idea. The Army Corps will take your thoughts into consideration when deciding whether or not to issue a permit for this proposed project.

Here are addition details courtesy of SaveCoralBay.com:

Suggested Guidelines for Public Comment Letters to Army Corps of Engineers

The PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD for the Summers End Group marina in Coral Bay, St John, has begun and will continue until JANUARY 31, 2015.

The factors considered by the Army Corps are described below:

“All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.”

How to Direct Your Letter

Your letter should either be sent by postal mail or by email to the addresses below. It should include the permit application number in the subject line.

Permit Application Number: SAJ-2004-12518 (SP-JMS)
Email Address: [email protected]
Postal Address: Mr. Johann M. Sasso, Antilles Permits Section, 400 Fernández Juncos Avenue, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901-3299

If you are submitting via email, you may send a copy to the Save Coral Bay email address so we can keep track of total responses.
email cc: [email protected]

What You May Want to Include in Your Letter

The best letter is one that uses your own words to express your own concerns. Whether you are a resident of Coral Bay, a resident of the Virgin Islands, a homeowner, a visitor, or someone with general concerns about protection of parks and natural resources, your comments will be most meaningful if they are your own. Every letter will be read by the Army Corps, and any relevant concerns expressed will be summarized by the Corps and will require response from the applicant.

There is also an opportunity to request a public hearing about the application for the marina. In your letter to the Army Corps (particularly if you are a resident) please consider requesting a public hearing and your reason for requesting it. Some reasons might be (a) that there are serious issues with the analysis in the Summers End Group’s submission, (b) there is significant public interest in the project, (c) there is public controversy over the project’s impacts, (d) to enable people who were unable to comment to be able to share their concerns, or any other reason that seems appropriate.

Here are some of the potential impacts and concerns you may want to discuss in your letter:

Environmental Concerns

  • Impact on habitat for endangered species, including Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, and Leatherback Turtles.
  • Impact on endangered coral species found in Coral Bay.
  • Impact on the healthy mangroves in close proximity to the project site.
  • Impact on fish nurseries – Lemon shark, Black Tip shark, conch, whelk and numerous juvenile reef fish who use the mangroves and sea grass meadows
  • Impact on the marine meadows that provide filtration and trap sediments.
  • Mitigation for any of the above – how will the applicant restore any of the resources lost or damaged by this project? How will the marine meadows be replaced?

Economic Concerns

  • Is there proven demand for mega yachts to use a marina in Coral Bay, and if not how can it be economically successful?.
  • How will the construction noise and disruption impact tourism in Coral Bay? What are the risks that this will cause more economic harm than the benefit the marina claims to bring?
  • What is the potential impact on real estate taxes? Is there a risk that people will be forced from their land if taxes increase?
  • What sort of jobs are created by a marina? Are these year-round professional positions, or seasonal, low paying jobs?

Infrastructural Needs

  • Potable water – how many trucks per day? how will the roads be able to handle this added burden?
  • Septic – how will the waste from mega yachts be handled?
  • Electric – how will the additional power required to operate the marina be supplied? What will happen during the frequent WAPA outages?
  • Fuel – how will fuel be safely transported, stored, and pumped? How will spills be contained?

Cultural and Historic Impacts

  • The view of Fortsberg, a site of great historic and cultural importance, would be obstructed by the marina.
  • The shoreline, used by fishermen and boaters, would be inaccessible following the construction of the marina.
  • The types of luxury shops and the mega yacht culture have no connection with the historic culture of the Virgin Islands, or the East End of St John.

Construction Impacts

  • Noise, reverberating in the Coral Bay amphitheater, from pile driving on 1333 pilings. How long, what intensity, what impacts to people, animals, migratory whales, pelagic dolphins?
  • Siltation – the barge spuds and pile driving will release vast clouds of silt, how will this be contained to not result in killing acres of sea grass? A rainfall deposits silt, but it dissipates in a couple days. The construction will create years of silt and may present risks to the sea bottom vegetation.
  • Construction water, electricity – how will the utility needs of the construction be met? Will there be constant diesel engines, pile drivers, generators creating daytime noise?

Alternatives Available

  • Large motor yachts can, and do, utilize the moorings maintained by the National Park Service. These moorings are safe to the seabed environment.
  • The creek in Cruz Bay harbor, near the National Park gateway and headquarters, has all of the amenities and infrastructure required for a marina. Should this be considered as a far lower impact and more appropriate location?

Location of the Marina

  • The proposed location is on the windward shore of Coral Bay harbor. It is subject to extreme wind and wave action during any tropical storm.
  • The proposed location is subject to waves whenever there is a SE wind. The majority of the slips are situated broadside to the waves.
  • The main pier needs to extend almost 1000′ into the harbor in order to reach deep enough water for large yachts. At that length it would make it impossible to sail out of Coral Bay on most wind conditions.
  • The north end of the harbor (behind Skinny Legs) is far more protected and appropriate for a marina.

Impact on Recreational Use

  • The proposal includes a “mooring field” of 75 moorings, but the design of the mooring field has been described by local captains as unrealistic. Are there concerns regarding the location, design, and operation of the mooring field?
  • There are insufficient details on the mooring field to determine how it will function.

These are just some representative concerns. You are encouraged to write about your personal concerns based on your knowledge of the Virgin Islands, of St John, of Coral Bay, and the probably impacts of the proposed marina.

5 thoughts on “Save Coral Bay: Time to Voice Your Opinions”

  1. Time is running short. From everything I’ve seen, every letter makes a difference. Can you imagine what the attitude will be if they get 20 letters? Now imagine what the attitude would be if they got 200 instead. Everyone and everyone’s point of view matter. Shape their attitude by telling them what you feel and why to feel that way.

    I’ve got my letter in its final draft. I’ll send mine as soon as my proof readers are ready to let it go I hope to send it tonight or tomorrow. If you want to complain about this project, why not complain to someone who can actually change the outcome?

  2. We spend roughly ten weeks on St. John during the winter months for years now. The reason we chose SJ was mostly due to development being extremely limited. Now, I’m in no way against development and I’m in favor if responsible development. While staying on St John we often travel to the other nearby islands and being a boater will always visit the marinas. What I’ve noticed mostly are the vacant slips which brings me to my point. It’s simply not needed. As far as the jobs it will created, that’s a bunch of bull. Marinas employ very few. Now what worries me the most is these big and small boats pumping their heads (bathrooms) over board. Yes that’s right raw sewerage over board. Need I say more !!!

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