Property tax plea goes nowhere

As expected, Craig Barshinger’s bid for an island-wide property reevaluation is going nowhere.

It  was put on ice by the Senate this week, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  Read the full story at http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17638430

First hurricane of the season?

Hurricane A reminder that this is Hurricane Season has popped up off the west coast of Africa.

The National Weather Service says, "The depression could be close
to hurricane strength in a few days."  It would be named Ana.

Tropical Depression #2 appears to be no threat to St. John, now. Forecasters expect the center of the storm to pass about 800 miles away from the Virgin Islands early next week. 

Here are a few storm resource links.  Keep 'em handy.

Nation’s Newspaper likes St. John for 2nd homes

UsatUSA TODAY gave a big, wet kiss to St. John and the U.S,. Virgin Islands in an article headlined, "Second homes: A peaceful, protected corner of the Caribbean." 

At a time when the Multiple Listing Service is overflowing, the newspaper's special correspondent Larry Olmstead wrote, the VI's have "all the things people love about the (Caribbean) — warm, sunny weather, clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches — along with the things they love about home: the English language, U.S. laws and political stability."

St. John is described as 'more rural and wild' than the other islands. "The limited supply of homes means St. John is more expensive," the newspaper said. "Condos begin at more than $250,000, and most are more than $500,000. Houses range from $300,000 to $32 million."

The article is illustrated by a Steve Simonsen photo of St. Croix's Buck Island. Read the story at http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/secondhomes/2009-08-06-us-virgin-islands_N.htm

Islands’ online newspaper adds features

SCH_5265_pp Shaun email The guest speaker at St. John Rotary was Shaun Pennington.  She is the founder, editor-in-chief, and indefatigable force behind VISource.com, the territory’s 10-year-old (!!!) online news resource.

(Photo courtesy of St. John Rotary.)

Pennington used the St. John forum at the Westin Resort to describe the Source as well as to trumpet its just-completed redesign.  She explained, readers can comment on stories, "start forums, find out what's happening here and abroad from the front page with our calendars and our live news feeds, or just see what's playing at the movies.”

Among the latest features on the site, she said, is a St. John restaurant guide which lists 67 eateries.  Click here for the Guide.  This kind of topic depth is one of the Internet's strong points, she explained where there are no space limits.

The Source 2.0 which launched in the last few weeks is a ‘must click’ for me every day, sometimes several times.  She has reporters who cover breaking news on St. John and the other islands. (Linda Lohr is the St. John correspondent.  Other reporters cover police, government, business, etc.). 

The new Source makes it easy for people to comment, to post their opinions, and even upload audio and video clips.  There’s an arts and entertainment calendar, classified and help wanted ads, editorials, and forums.

A disclaimer of sorts … I’ve known Shaun for more than five years. I have always admired her commitment, dedication, and rottweiler-like doggedness. (Walt’s, too, for supporting her.)  Any small business has rocky periods, but when you start something nobody’s ever heard of before, and ask advertisers and investors for support, well, it can be really tough. 

Shaun is really, really tough.

Once again, Pennington is starting something new, and it’s so big that it’s growth is hard to see.  But day by day, there are new ads from, business people, new forum comments by locals and visitors, and new piles of data  being shoveled online by researchers.  The snowball is headed downhill.

Deal near for Coral Bay eatery

Deli On the market eight months, there’s now a deal in the works for the Big Belly Deli in Coral Bay.  When it went up for sale last November, the asking price was $97,000.  Latest listing has been $84,000, 13% less. 

Peggy Yolman and Tim Cummins opened for business in the Cocoloba Plaza shopping center, to positive reviews, in late 2007.  More about Big Belly Deli here and here.

Pond Bay interest rises

Pondbay The Pond Bay development is on target to have 26 of its beachfront cottages open by Christmas. “Sales are being made,” said Bill Orwig, Director of Sales.  “We will host our first owners for the holidays.”

Marketing activity has picked up since Pond Bay centralized its sales effort at the resort’s Chocolate Hole site.

A three-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath, 2,200-square foot beachfront cottage is open for visitors daily.  "We moved (from the Marketplace shopping center), and had much more walk-in activity,” Orwig said. Promotional signage on the South Shore road has helped alert people interested in touring the site and seeing the model.

The announcement that Auberge Resorts Management Company will be overseeing Pond Bay has also helped build interest.  The discerning readers of Travel + Leisure, one of the most respected travel magazines in the world, recently voted Auberge Resorts among the world's best. Its Inn at Palmetto Bluff was awarded "Best Resort in the Continental U.S. and Canada" and Esperanza Resort, a luxury resort in Mexico was named "Best Hotel Spa in Mexico" in the 14th annual World's Best Awards readers' survey. This has given many people confidence that Pond Bay will be a world class operation.

By December, the developers hope to have resort amenities operating, including a restaurant, spa services, and pool.

For more information on Pond Bay, click here.

(This is an advertisement.  Information was supplied by Pond Bay.)

Don’t drink the water in Cruz Bay

Cruz_bay_to_gallows_ptTwo weeks in a row, the government has reported the water’s not clean in Cruz Bay, where the ferries arrive.  Who would have imagined?

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources said test results of water quality, issued July 24 and 31, showed that the samples "(did) not meet the water quality standards for swimming or fishing.”  A spokesperson for the department said construction sites, like Grande Bay, may be  – may – contributing to the problem, in addition to lots of recent rainfall which causes runoff from the hills.

None of the other seven St. John beaches tested were found wanting.  They include Great Cruz Bay, Oppenheimer, Hart Bay and “Klain (sic)" Bay.  On St Croix, Rainbow Beach was found to not meet Standards, as was Coki Point on St,. Thomas.

Park boss wants beach shuttle

Repaving of the North Shore Road is on track to begin in the fall, according to the Park's Superintendent. 

Rotary_logo Mark Hardgrove told a meeting of St. John Rotary that bids for the work came in 25% less than budgeted..  This means, he said, the project can be expanded to include more repaving and include road behind the NPS building in Cruz Bay, the St. John Source said in its report of the meeting.

The Superintendent also said he’s hoping to enlist island taxi drivers in establishing shuttle transportation to the beaches.  He’d like to see a system that would let people get on and off vehicles along the way.  he said this would reduce parking problems and congestion at Trunk Bay as well as increase the drivers' income because they’d be driving more and waiting less.

Read the full St. John Source story at http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/02/27/hardgrove-paving-parking-tap-park

Ready for early holiday shopping?

Calendar While merchants on the mainland are just hoping to get a decent Back to School season, Elaine Estern is already gearing up for Christmas.  She’s taking pre-orders for her 2010 Calendar, and built interest by running a contest to name the item.

Calendar_2 There were several winners who offered “St. John Citizens,” the chosen entry.  Estern said she’ll give autographed copies of the calendar to them: Jim and Annette Harper and Sandy Dean. But rather than people of St. John, the "Citizens" depicted are animals: fish, peacocks, dogs, cats, and various beautiful birds. Each of the monthly pages feature one of Estern’s colorful, sometimes whimsical, and always entertaining watercolors.

You can see this year’s art selections at http://www.coconutcoaststudios.com/Site/Calendar.html.

Estern plans to start shipping calendars in September.