Caneel charging for parking

Caneel1 If your idea of a great day is to camp out on the Caneel Bay beach, it's gonna cost you.

A visitor to the Virgin-Islands-On-Line forum report that as Caneel has reopened this month it's also begun charging $10 to park in the resort's lot.

However, the fee will be waived if you spend that much on food, etc, while you're there, according to one person on the forum.

For The Inquiring Iguana, this is going to be no problem.  He's always wolfed down a fantastic lunch at the beachside bar and actually refers to the place as "the home of the $40 hamburger."  That's what it ends up costing him and Mrs. II for lunch and a couple of frothy rum drinks.

Folks who don't partake of the ambiance and luxury of Caneel can always take a taxi.

Food price discount alert

Dolphin Gerry Singer writes an interesting blog, St. John Life.  He's a long time island resident and author of several excellent guidebooks.  He also keeps tabs on Dolphin Market and its on-again off-again discount deal. It's on-again.

Dolphin's in a tough location. Has been for months, located as it is at ground zero for the traffic Roundabout construction.  Getting into the store, never mind parking, has been difficult.  So, to try and make up for the hassle of shopping there, Dolphin's reinstated a 10% discount on orders of $50 or more.  Weekends, it goes to 20%.  Gerry says you may have to ask for the deal to get it.

The VI Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs often finds Dolphin has the lowest food prices on the island.  Add a 10-20% discount, and the deal is unbeatable.  You can put up with a lot of hassle for $10.

Cleaning the Creek

Creek_1 There's lots of talk and some action – finally! – about developing the Creek, the waterfront area where the car barges used to dock.  Now it's used mainly as a truck/taxi/van parking lot and for cruise ships to deliver their day visitors.  But before that happens – and it's a long way off – the Creek needs some cleaning.

Heavy rains a year ago drove runoff and sediment from the hills, into the waters around St. John.  Thanks to currents, lots of the dirt ended up in the Creek and actually formed little islands, reducing the navigable waters for cruisers and boat owners who use the Creek or the National Park Service dock.

Creek_2So, the Deputy Inquiring Iguana was not surprised to see dredging operations underway at the Creek

Think of it as underwater plowing to smooth out the creek bed and allow boats to go to and fro.  Mark Hardgrove, the VI National Park Superintendent, said that in some places the water level came up as much as two-and-a-half feet.

Better late than sorry?

Bank It's all about the timing, isn't it?  When there's a possibility of trouble, well, you take precautions.

That's why many home and business owners have hurricane shutters.  First hint of a storm, the wood/metal protection goes up.

So you have to wonder, deeply, about the First, the bank in Cruz Bay across from Woody's. In the past week, they put up hurricane shutters. 

A Deputy Inquiring Iguana pointed out the installation, finding it odd that the metal went up this late in the season, which ends Nov. 30. "Maybe someone went postal and drove their Jeep through the window," the DII speculated.

Sheets of paper attached to the shutters say, "Please use extreme caution around shutters. Very sharp edges."

Wanna bet the shutters are still there at Christmas?

St. John ferry rate going up 20%

Despite opposition from two VI Commissioners, the Public Service Commission approved fare increases for St. John ferry service this week.

The new rates, $6 from Red Hook to Cruz Bay and $12 between St. John and Charlotte Amalie, will go into effect Monday, Nov. 9, according to the St. John Source.

The PSC approved the rate increase after twice reviewing financial records from the ferry companies, Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services.

In its report of the PSC meeting, the St. John Source said there is reason for concern about continuation of St. John-Charlotte Amalie service.  The ferry companies complain it is a money loser during the summer.  They have proposed eliminating the route July to November, as well as cutting two Red Hook round trips.

It's interesting that Gov. de Jongh released statements in opposition to the ferry rate hikes just a few days before the PSC meeting and vote.  As the Inquiring Iguana pointed out this week, too, it's verrrry interesting that in reporting his own Commissioners' resistance , the Governor didn't make his own position known. By the way, the he appoints the PSC's voting members.

The Iguana thinks the Governor looked the other way on this one, tried to still have his cake and eat it too. A cynic would ask, at the least, whether Varlack or TS contributed to the Governor's election campaign.

Read the Source story at http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/10/30/psc-approves-ferry-rate-hikes.

Ferry fare hike gets two ‘No’ votes

Ferrydock_cruzbay_2 Commissioners of two VI departments agree that this is no time to raise ferry fares. 

Statements against proposed rate increases were released by Gov. John de Jongh although he, personally, did not say he's against them.

The Commissioners of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and Public Works did. 

DCLA chief Wayne Biggs wrote to the Public Service Commission, which is weighing the requests from Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services, saying "Our residents cannot currently entertain any … additional burdens."

Darryl Smalls, head of Public Works, agreed. He said, "The department recommends that the current fare structure remains the same," although he did encourage the ferry companies services to seek more subsidy money from the VI government.

DLCA chief Biggs explained his opposition citing the recession and its impact on St Johnians (and visitors).  "The current cost of basic needs is substantially higher … Power and basic utilities have also increased significantly. Prices at the grocery checkout are easily described as astronomical." He also pointed out St. John’s relative reliance on St. Thomas … places its residents in a unique situation where frequent travel to St. Thomas is a necessity rather than a luxury."

Animal Care Center benefit raised $5K

Acc flea market 2009_5 The annual "No Fleas" flea market raised $5,100 for the Animal Care Center and assured its operation through the end of the year or until the next fund raiser.

Shoppers hunted for great deals among a largeAcc flea market 2009_6 variety of goods and furniture donated by local residents and businesses. More than 20 vendors also contributed by donating $25 for a space at the event to sell stuff, too.

An energetic addition this year's event was "Top Dogs" hot dogs, who were able to raise significant funds thanks to generous donations from Island Blues Bar & Grill, Tyson Trucking, Cute Cozy Cottage and KateNDesign.

The next ACC fund raiser is Christmas for the Animals, scheduled for Dec. 12.

VI National Park in peril

Coral The Virgin Islands National Park is endangered by climate change, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.  The park is especially threatened by rising global temperatures, as are 24 other of the country’s 351 national parks.

“In 2005, the Caribbean basin saw unprecedented water temperatures and some dramatic bleaching, followed by coral disease and mortality,” the U.S. Climate Chance Science Program found last year.

“The most dramatic monitored bleaching took place in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where National Park monitoring showed that at some sites 90 percent of the coral bleached. To date there is an estimated 50 percent combined mortality from bleaching and disease in the Virgin Island National Park surveys. As of yet, there are no reports of recovery as amounts of mortality continue to increase.”

Other likely effects of global warming for the VINP include higher seas, stronger storms, more downpours and flooding, the report said. 

Dolphins, Ahoy!

No, not Dolphin Market.  Dolphins.  Like fish.  The real things.

On his blog, Gerry Singer reports a pair of dolphins put on a show for kayakers, swimmers, and boaters near Maho Bay on Saturday. 

Gerry was there and, fortunately, had his camera.  See the photos and his post at http://seestjohn.com/st_john_life/life-on-st-john/st-john-virgin-islands-maho-bay-dolphin/