The National Park Service (NPS) seeks public input on a potential land exchange between Virgin Islands National Park and the Territorial government of the US Virgin Islands (GVI) on St. John. The NPS is preparing to conduct an environmental analysis of the proposed land exchange and requests your assistance to identify issues, concerns, and opportunities. The 30-day comment period begins March 28 and ends on April 27.
Purpose of and Need for the Project
The purpose of this NPS project is to respond to the request from the GVI to exchange a parcel of NPS-owned land, known as the Catherineberg Estate (Tract No. 01-137A), as a possible location to support the island’s local educational needs. In exchange, the GVI has offered the island of Whistling Cay (Tract No. 02-101) for consideration.
The project is needed because the government of the Virgin Islands has determined that public education on St. John is lacking and is currently only available through the eighth grade. To complete a public high school education, students must commute by boat each day or relocate to St. Thomas during the school year. For nearly three decades, the GVI and the US government have discussed approaches to expanding education on St. John. Steps taken between 2012-2014 identified the 11-acre park parcel within the Catherineberg Estate as a possible location to support the island’s education needs. In November 2019, Governor Bryan offered the small island of Whistling Cay for consideration in an exchange, reenergizing negotiations. This potential exchange provides the opportunity for local officials to achieve their long-standing effort to construct the first K-12 public school on the island of St. John. Education is a component of the NPS mission and therefore, this request from the GVI aligns with NPS goals.
As part of the civic engagement process, the NPS will host a virtual meeting open to all members of the public on Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. AST to provide information about the project scope and issues and answer questions. Members of the public can attend the virtual event or submit written comments by visiting https://parkplanning.nps.gov/stjohnlandexhange.
How to Comment
Comments are to be submitted electronically at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/stjohnlandexhange or mailed to Potential Land Exchange, Superintendent, Virgin Islands National Park, 1300 Cruz Bay Creek, St. John, VI 00830. The 30-day comment period begins March 28 and ends on April 27.
For additional information on the project, please visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/stjohnlan.
The National Park Service (NPS) is releasing an initial set of concepts that could guide the redevelopment of Caneel Bay at Virgin Islands National Park. We are inviting you to join our virtual public meeting on the evening of February 8th, and to provide input on the draft alternatives during our 30 day public comment period ending February 17, 2022. Links to access the document, join the virtual public meeting, and submit comments can all be found at the end of this invitation. The bottom of this invite lists the three ways to submit comments for review.
Using the feedback the NPS received during the 2021 public meetings, we developed a preliminary range of alternatives that prioritize the protection of resources and expand public access to Caneel Bay. Civic engagement is an important part of the redevelopment process. We look forward to receiving the public’s feedback on these draft alternatives as we work together to create the best possible future for Caneel Bay.
While the Caneel Bay retained use estate (RUE) will remain in place until its expiration on September 30, 2023, the NPS began planning for the Caneel Bay redevelopment last fall. The goals of the redevelopment plan are to ensure the preservation and protection of natural, cultural and marine resources, provide for economic development opportunities through commercial services, maximize operational efficiencies, and ensure compliance with law, regulation and policy.
In line with these objectives, four preliminary redevelopment options are proposed for the public to comment on, including:
Alternative A— The NPS preliminary proposed action balances enhanced public access, recreational opportunities, resource protection and park operational efficiency while re-establishing a world-class overnight experience at a luxury resort. Additionally, the concept calls for a mid-range overnight experience at Hawksnest Beach separate from the resort, and the NPS would provide space for an organization to design, fund, construct, and operate a community destination, such as an amphitheater, museum, or cultural center.
Alternative B offers a similar management approach to Alternative A, except the resort area is expanded, a mid-range overnight experience and public access at Hawksnest Beach is removed.
Alternative C includes all resort zone elements identified in Alternative A, and the resort zone is similar to that of the historic boundaries of the Caneel Bay RUE. No visitor services would be provided at the site for non-resort guests, and the NPS would not provide a community space at the Caneel Bay area.
No-Action Alternative assumes sole management by the NPS upon expiration of the RUE in 2023. The NPS would not issue any permit, lease or concession contract. The NPS would minimally restore the site to allow for safe access by visitors through existing roads and trails, including safe access to beaches.
We invite you to review the newsletter and our list of Frequently Asked Questions, both available for download at the bottom of this website:
Parkplanning – Redevelopment of Caneel Bay – Civic Engagement Newsletter (nps.gov)
NPS will hold a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, February 8 at 6 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time. We are inviting you to attend the virtual event by clicking on the link at the bottom of this website: National Park Service – PEPC – Meeting Notices (nps.gov)
Please submit your comments by February 17, 2022. There are three ways to submit comments on the draft alternatives:
1) Comments may be submitted electronically via this website (preferred):
2) Comments may be submitted via the virtual public meeting.
3) Written comments may also be hand-delivered or mailed to the park headquarters at:
Caneel Bay Redevelopment and Management Plan
c/o Superintendent Nigel Fields
1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830
The Gowrie Group, a leading marine insurance agency that manages the comprehensive crew health insurance and yacht insurance programs offered to active members of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA), is pleased to announce that starting February 1, 2022, coverage will be extended to shore-based active VIPCA members.
“The VIPCA Crew Medical Program has been such a large success, that the shore-based membership has asked to be included in the group association health plan for the year too. The U.S. Virgin Islands does not offer individual health plans and small group policies are extremely pricey and hard for a group to access. Working with CIGNA and VIPCA, plus understanding the needs of health insurance in the territory, Gowrie has been able to secure affordable health insurance to the shore-based vendors and businesses that are part of the active VIPCA membership,” says Rick Bagnall, Senior Vice President, Gowrie Group, Division of Risk Strategies.
Highlights of Gowrie’s insurance plan for shore-based VIPCA members include worldwide coverage, coverage in the U.S. CIGNA National network, two plans to choose from with varying deductibles, up to $5,000,000 per Policy Year limit, and monthly credit cards or EFT payments.
CIGNA provides global assistance and benefits. With 24/7 medical management services, multilingual claims administrators, and highly trained customer service professionals, this health insurance plan brings VIPCA members the products they need, backed by the service they deserve.
Enrolling in the VIPCA Shore-Based Medical Program is as easy as 1-2-3.
First, are you a VIPCA supplier, a business that serves or services VIPCA clients and members, or a VIPCA vessel owner or manager?
Secondly, if yes, are you interested in the VIPCA Health Insurance Program?
Third, if yes, then become a VIPCA Personal Member for $150 annually. To do this, visit vipca.org/personal-membership/Next, download and submit the VIPCA Health Insurance Application found at vipca.org/shore-based-insurance/. Email the completed health insurance application to firstname.lastname@example.org Once accepted, insurance payment is online by EFT or credit card payments.
“For years VIPCA’s Board of Directors have been working to provide shore-based insurance for our members because we saw the value in having quality, affordable healthcare for our marine vendors, marine service providers, and their employees. I saw that personally. While running a marine services company, one of the most important benefits I hoped to provide to our technicians was healthcare. However, we kept running into roadblocks because there was no other individual or group health insurance option in the Virgin Islands available to the public. This new health care program for VIPCA’s shoreside members from Gowrie Group changes the existing situation in a significant and positive way. I am proud that we as an organization are available to provide this to our members,” says Peter Pieschel, member of the VIPCA Board of Directors and Chairman of the Vendors Committee.
For more information, contact a specific member of the Gowrie Group’s VIPCA Health Insurance Team: Rick Bagnall, email@example.com, (860)-391-7161, or Barbie Murray-Orne, firstname.lastname@example.org, (860) 399-3630. For Yacht Insurance Consultations, contact Mark Gargula, email@example.com, (860) 391-7371. Or visit www.gowrie.com.
Holiday cheer was abundant this week as over 300 children on St. Thomas and St. John received gifts distributed by the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association (USVIHTA) and association member Frenchman’s Reef Resort. Thanks to a generous $5,000 donation from Frenchman’s Reef Resort to purchase toys, USVIHTA and its members were able to continue their annual holiday toy distribution event.
“The last few years have been difficult for our community. The 2017 storms followed by the pandemic have created a series of financial hardships for families and businesses. It’s a testament to our members and the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands that we continue to uphold our mission to support our community and its families regardless of what challenges we’re facing. We’re all in this together, and there’s no better way to celebrate that than by uplifting one another,” said USVIHTA President Lisa Hamilton.
Gifts were given to 309 children this week and will continue into next week at the Boys & Girls Club Oswald Harris Court, Boys & Girls Club St. John, Caribbean Center for Boys & Girls Bovoni Housing Community, Michael J. Kirwan Terrace Housing Community and the Salvation Army. Children receiving gifts range from infants to teenagers.
Kurt Wiksten, managing director, Frenchman’s Reef Resort was on hand to distribute gifts on behalf of the Reef and USVIHTA. “Our Frenchman’s Reef family is honored to be a part of so many island holiday traditions including this gift of toys. Judging by the smiles, this is going to be a very Merry Christmas!”
Frenchman’s Reef Resort has been integral this year in supporting USVIHTA’s initiatives despite the current economic climate. The resort donated 50 turkeys for families and Boys & Girls Club staff in November. The Reef and other members also contributed food, beverages and additional resources for USVIHTA’s annual Thanksgiving celebration at the Oswald Harris Court center.
Navy Beach, St. Thomas has fully reopened at Yacht Haven Grande, offering prime waterfront positioning at the sprawling marina. The restaurant offers a mix of both fully covered and sun-dappled outdoor seating, a comfortable outdoor lounge and a 20-seat bar—all with unobstructed views of the surrounding yachts and Charlotte Amalie Harbor.
Serving globally-influenced casual coastal cuisine, creative cocktails and a selection of local and international beers, the nautically-inspired venue is a popular destination for lunch, dinner and drinks. The menu includes Tuna Crudo with Papaya, Jalapeńo, Toasted Sesame and Lemon Soy; Island-Spiced Blackened Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa, Pickled Red Onions, and Sweet Plantains; Soy-Glazed Red Snapper with Sushi Rice, Goma Wakame, Black Sesame, and Red Curry Coconut Sauce; as well as comfort-food favorites like the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and the Navy Burger with Onion-Bacon Marmalade. Signature cocktails include the Ginger Thomas with Vodka, Lime, Ginger, Cucumber and Mint; Headhunter with Gold and Silver Rum, Tropical Juices and Grenadine; the Act of Grace with Espresso, Vanilla Vodka, and Coffee Liqueur; and the Frozen Bushwacker, with Dark and Silver Rum, Irish Cream, Amaretto, Coffee Liqueur and Vodka.
The restaurant is currently open. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Reservations can be made by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-714-3566. Navy Beach will be open from 12-9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, closed on Christmas Day.