My Take on the Proposed Coral Bay Marina Meeting

st. john marina landside view

When I took over News of St. John back in April 2013, I made the decision to not discuss certain topics. For example, politics. Well today I am making a very quick, one-time exception.

Last night was the much talked about Coastal Zone Management meeting about the proposed Coral Bay marina. As you may have read here on this website, Rick Barksdale and his wife Chaliese Summers have proposed a 145-slip marina in Coral Bay. The pair, who was in attendance last night with their team, believe the marina is much needed and will provide an economic boost for Coral Bay. Others, however, have very publicly stated that while a marina is needed in Coral Bay, the scope of the proposed “St. John Marina,” as its been dubbed, is simply too large and will lead to the destruction of Coral Bay.

Here is my take on the situation…

  • I find it odd that the Summer’s End Group does not not have a website in this day and age.
  • I find it odd that someone in Massachusetts purchased the website StJohnMarina.com, the official name of the new marina, this past Monday.
  • I find it odd that the Summer’s End Group’s Facebook page was only recently created and is being used as a push site, rather than a forum to discuss the proposed project.
  • I find it odd that despite the fact that Rick Barksdale has stated that he has been involved with $100 million construction projects, there does not seem to be any verifiable proof of this listed anywhere on the internet.
  • I find it odd that when questioned about the proposal, Rick Barksdale has repeatedly stated to me and others that the 1,000-page document is available to be read at the library, rather than answering the question.
  • I found it to be very unprofessional to see Rick Barksdale raising his voice in an aggressive manner when questioned by a local resident before last night’s meeting. I also found it to be very unprofessional for him to point his fingers in the face of this woman.

That’s all I am willing to say for now.


34 thoughts on “My Take on the Proposed Coral Bay Marina Meeting”

  1. Wow…. a heated debate, no doubt. Yikes! No one deserves to have a finger pointed in the face. Was he doing it to intimidate the woman?

    • “Typical Masshole” ???? There are many in MA. that love and care about Coral Bay including this one. I know many in this state that care more about STJ than even some of the islanders.

      • To piggyback on your comment Steve, Massachusetts has the largest number of News of St. John readers in the entire country. So thank you to our friends in Massachusetts. 🙂

      • Thanks Steve;

        If we are ever going to have civility in public discourse, mass-grouping names like Masshole and Californcator have to go. Like sexism, racism and any ism, regionalism is just a lazy person’s way to run their mouth without thinking about things.

  2. Thanks for making the exception.
    It is my position to not discuss politics is to not get involved. That is appropriate for reporting facts but not very useful when the facts are not clear, logical, applicable or factual. St. John on this and many platforms need to get involved. Excepting “the way things are” is not always healthy for the population here or anywhere. I applaud your blog.

    • Hurricane Hole moorings are assigned by the National Parks Service and boats that hold current permits are allowed to renew annually, the ones that do not renew are open in a lottery, usually not more then 10. There would 130 boats in this marina if full without access to Hurricane Hole….

  3. Big mistake for Saint John. We have been traveling to “our island ” for the last 25 plus years. Leave our precious Saint John, as it is. One of the many beautiful things of Saint John, is that it is untouched by updated business. It would break our hearts to see this. We have seen other islands, none even begin to compare, to Saint John. That’s why, we return. Every year. Keep our island special.

    Margy

  4. The reporting of fact is all one can do. Fact can never turn around and bite one in the ass. Opinion on the other hand, is not journalism nor responsible reporting. I applaud your exception to the rule. The facts of this debacle that will effect so many, clearly need to be aired in the open as opposed to decided in a dark room by a few who will benefit.

  5. Thank you for writing the facts, the project is definitely not sounding upfront and honest at all. I wish I could have been there for the meeting to have my say, I live a bit too far away at present.
    I really hope that this does NOT move forward in any way, shape or form.

    • Agreed! I’m sure there are many of us who live off-island, yet still have a great interest in keeping Coral Bay a beautiful, natural place. My question is: how much actual support is there for this project? I can’t imagine it’s getting a lot of support, except from one member of the CSM committee?

  6. This “couple” should be driven off island. If they even have hearts, they do not understand the heart of St. John. Their proposal just sickened me.
    ’72-’78 former resident

  7. There is an entire world out there for these developers to throw their money around. Why do they feel the need to come to Coral Bay and completely destroy the dynamic that makes it as special as it now is. Leave it alone!

  8. Thank you for making your opinions public. I view your site as a journalistic one regardless of how heavy you cover politics. You are reporting and therefore are a journalist. Frank Barnako was definitely more opinionated but each owner chooses their path. I enjoy both types, soft and hard news. This issue has polarized the community and as a journalist I feel it is not only your right, but your duty to continue to alert all your readers about the proposed Marina. After all your site’s name is News of St. John. There is a discussion group on FaceBook for any one who want to stay informed. “Summers End Discussion Group” For the record I am a former 25 year resident of St. John and still have business ties and own property on island. I am vehemently and adamently opposed to this project and am appalled by the levels of non transparency from Rick Barksdale and Chalise Summers/Smith and the outright censorship on the official “Summer’s End Group” FaceBook page. Be Well All.

  9. One more thing overlooked (or maybe not)… They’re partners, some of who are local (born here), also have a lack of sensitivity to the organic nature of Coral Bay.
    The “project” will undermine, “forever”, an ecosystem.
    As one of my friends said and I hope he doesn’t mind me plagiarizing…”the bay will be an ongoing ecological cataclysm”!
    Very sad!

  10. Although I appreciate your goal of staying out of politics, it is a part of the Coral Bay community, the Island of St John and, in fact, every human endevour. It is your choice when determining what news is fit to print. Just remember, keep your readers fully informed. It does no good to step away from the issues. It has been my experience that if you are not at the table you are probably on the menu.

  11. With so much at stake, the lives of over 1000 people who have invested, in today’s dollars more than 100 million in houses, private roads etc. in protecting the pastoral setting that is Coral Bay and its very fragile biosphere, taking the gloves off in any fashion is not only acceptable, it is demanded.

    Just the thought that all this would be sacrificed for a dozen insiders that have assuredly greased the pole to DC is unimaginable. And yet, here we are. WTF….

  12. One other thought, in the late 60s developers had the bright idea of putting a hotel and house lots on Hans Lolick, and building. Marina in Mandahl Bay to support it. They bulldozed a couple of roads on Hans Lolick, and opened up the natural salt pond behind Mandahl Beach to the ocean, building a jetty and channel. Then they ran out of money. 45 years later, the roads on Hans Lolick aren’t visible, but the natural habitat that was the salt pond is gone, still open to the ocean. And Mandahl Beach was pretty much ruined. Smart development is a necessary part of any community, bit both the developers and the plan should be thoroughly vetted.

  13. Having traveled to many spots over the past seventy years, I have returned to places years later to see how “economic development” has ruined them. Europe, Asia and most of all the United States. In Florida many beaches are blocked out by the highrise condos. Please don’t screw up Coral Bay.

  14. Bert: Thanks for your very interesting backstory on Hans Lolick and Mandahl. As to the Summer’s End Group, their 2012 infatuation with the ultra-rich doesn’t bode well, and the reason that their current marina proposal is still “too damn big” is their insistence on accommodating enormous mega-yachts, while at the same time avoiding the environmentally sensitive issue of dredging. A marina focused on a smaller number of slips, and for smaller boats, as has been proposed by the Moravian Church, makes a lot more sense for Coral Harbor. And yes, stopping the current discharge of waste from the fixed or rarely moving liveaboards into the harbor is critical to improving the harbor’s water quality, but that doesn’t justify green lighting the enormous and likely to fail Summer’s End project.

    All the best,

    Kevin

    • As recently posted to the discussion group (and written in a letter to the Acting Commissioner of the CZM), around four years ago there was a huge project between the Coral Bay Yacht Club…yes there is one already and it is very active in the community…..and DPNR to register all the boats and moorings AND to ensure that each boat had a working sewage disposal system. All ‘us’ liveaboards do care about our interaction with our chosen environment and also take part in the regular shoreline and mangrove cleanups. Please, please don’t assume we are a dirty bunch!!

  15. This entire project strikes me as a total manipulation of a system rife with purposeful corruption. Only 1 member of the CZM has to vote yes for this to pass because the governor has not appointed anyone to replace the 2 missing members, and Brion was “kind” enough to………..undermine the entire community for cash. The governor’s brother did the design, the senators are starting to make their positions known…….I suspect this is a done deal, all prearranged.

  16. I am actually for the project as long as the fish and shark that breed in the bay won’t be disturbed. The way the harbour is now with a bunch of boat campers living in the bay, I see this as a more regulated way to control the overly popular harbour and make sure all boats pump out. Coral bay will never be Cruz but at least we can get some more services and businesses. I think it will still be sleepy but just a little more happenin’.

    • As recently posted to the discussion group (and written in a letter to the Acting Commissioner of the CZM), around four years ago there was a huge project between the Coral Bay Yacht Club…yes there is one already and it is very active in the community…..and DPNR to register all the boats and moorings AND to ensure that each boat had a working sewage disposal system. All ‘us’ liveaboards do care about our interaction with our chosen environment and also take part in the regular shoreline and mangrove cleanups. Please, please don’t assume we are a dirty bunch!!
      This proposed project will rip the heart and soul out of Coral Bay – and probably from its residents too.

  17. Evidently, all the people involved ARE NOT from the marine/boating industry! I service the super/ mega yachts, & they won’t pay for all that! Is it going to be done in phases, like YHG & Sirenusa! Those 2 never got close to completion without huge complications! Both are still not even close to being finished as originally planned!

    • Living on the East End, this affects me and I am disappointed that the public’s voice has fallen on deaf ears.

      The last comment by Tony is astute and telling. Even if it does get approved there is a very strong possibility that they will go bust mid-construction. Most folks who come down have no clue the costs and St. John is more expensive than St. Thomas or St. Croix, not to mention Coral Bay is even costlier than around Cruz Bay. I won’t even talk about building on the East End.

      So they are told all sorts of cost estimates and most of them are low balling, and unfortunately there’s a strong chance for corruption along the way. It cannot be ignored the parties involved and their proximity to local government and politics.

      This could be interpreted as a cynical view, which it certainly is, but is it without warrant? All of the facts mentioned plus additional facts makes this a hard one to swallow.

      Perhaps only a mass protest to the sources of power could elicit a change of course. Perhaps the rest can join in via Skype to show how broad a community this project affects.

  18. I’ve read all the comments on this page and frankly , I have lived in coral bay since hurricane Hugo if it was up to me none of you would be here but it’s not up to me coral bay needs a marina not the one proposed, but you can’t stop change so get a grip and realize a marina is coming coral bay is nothing like it was when I arrived when most of the people commenting here weren’t here and let’s let the real locals decide what they want !!!

  19. the bottom line is that we can’t count on the government (public works) to provide the additional infrastructure (e.g. sewers), nor maintain the current infrastructure (e.g. roads), that are needed to support a project of the size.

  20. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there. Please keep us posted!! This whole project makes my heart so heavy. I read the brief you posted a couple weeks ago and it seems a ridiculous plan. Everyone who cares about St. John should weigh in on this discussion. This is not merely a local construction issue.

  21. For one who was “born” on st john, to sell out the quality of life of st john , knowing he has his own getaway property on lovango, is particularly greedy and short sighted…….
    As “Max” said above here, “….because the governor has not appointed anyone to replace the 2 missing members, and Brion was “kind” enough to undermine the entire community for cash…..”
    Seems Brion M also “sold out” his brother , to gain the “ASOLARE” restaurant building and property for himself…..
    On the “summers end discussion group” page mentioned by luigi above here,checkout brion’s brother’s amazing comments under Lee Maunder’s “thread” directed toward david knight back on aug 22-23…?

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