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HomeNewsArchivesREASONS WHY BEAL LAND SWAP SHOULDN’T FLY

REASONS WHY BEAL LAND SWAP SHOULDN’T FLY

After all that has been said regarding the Beal at Great Pond issue in the past months, it is hard to know what to add to all the reasonable, intelligent, and well-stated objections to the plans to build a rocket assembly factory at that South Shore site.
So perhaps, as a Senate vote on the land-swap is due on Oct. 5, it is time to recap some key points.
This is number one a land-use issue. That land, described as "vacant" by those of vacuous sensibility, is protected by federal designation, abuts the largest salt pond in the Virgin Islands, and is zoned W-1; waterfront pleasure. To quote our VI zoning laws, under W-1 "… areas which are available for recreation should be preserved and protected against intrusion of an industrial nature. …Private residential areas abutting the waterfront should also be protected not only against commercial and industrial uses, but equally important, against pollution."
It is notable that in all of Beal’s extensive PR in the press and at all the public meetings at which it presents renderings of the projected assembly plant, the company has never shown the public the true size of this factory as it would look on that site. Rather, Beal represents it with a dot or small square somewhere on one small corner of its true footprint. Its size is so overwhelmingly huge that a realistic superimposition is shocking to people who see it for the first time. This is not an "office complex" as Beal has most recently described it.
This is also, and the St. Croix Environmental Association has never stated otherwise, an environmental issue. Beal’s plans to barge rockets out of Great Pond Bay and its admission at the Industrial Development Commission meeting last fall that the company has not ruled out the possibility of dredging that extremely shallow bay in order to be able to do so, make this very much an environmental concern.
Sustainable land use is an environmental issue. We have said again and again that St. Croix has land that is zoned industrial, where Beal could establish its plant. In fact, had Beal continued its negotiations with the Port Authority for the land it was considering over a year ago, land that is much more appropriate for its plans, they might be breaking ground right now, without the outcry and divisiveness that has been the inevitable result of the company’s arrogant insistence on the Great Pond site.
The rationale that Beal needs the "protected bay" is only the most recent justification for their intransigence, and is so much bunk, as anyone who knows the waters around the container port and Betty’s Hope can attest to. For the very few days when there might be ocean swells coming into that bay, a minor investment in a breakwater would be a simple solution. A lot simpler than trying to design a zero-draft fantasy barge to weave huge rockets through the patch reefs of Great Pond Bay.
Using the classic tactics of big money, Beal promises jobs and economic boosts and dangles this carrot, with conditions, in front of a community stressed by economic slump and government ineptitude. Beal is very well aware of the territory’s state of affairs and, indeed, is playing on that issue in hopes of getting what it wants; Great Pond or nothing. Governor Charles Turnbull has said we need Beal’s jobs and tax revenues. But Beal is asking for our IDC benefits, which it has acknowledged were instrumental in the company’s desire to come down here in the first place. In fact, the company has described it as "a wonderful program." And wonderful it must be, to make over $100 million with each satellite launch and pay virtually no taxes on that money for 20 years!
When asked by Channel 8 News whether it was surprising that St. Croix was putting up so much resistance to Beal locating here, given the Florida counties that may be courting Beal as well, Craig Covalt from Aviation Week & Space Technology answered that "St. Croix may be coming up in the world" noting that we are having to face some of the same difficult issues as other communities given such choices: issues of environmental degradation, and the impact to residents should such a facility locate in proximity to their neighborhood.
To voice honest concerns and insist on the integrity of our laws and our land use
may be one of the more mature things we as a community can do right now, as hard
as it may be.
Beal can continue to put its spin on its plans with expensive PR, throw parties with the Express Band and give away free T-shirts to count its supporters. Wade Gates, Beal’s director of Corporate Affairs, can continue his affable interviews and presentations: this is his job, and the money behind him is endless.
Those who are pushing for Beal and its Great Pond agenda continue to characterize the opposition as "a hand-full of so-called environmentalists." They are incorrect. The professional St. Croix Environmental Association is opposed to Beal at this location.
Respected individuals and organizations, from our Delegate to Congress Donna
Christian Christensen to the League of Women Voters and the Board of Realtors, question
that choice. The majority of the rest of us continue to ask, "Why there?"
No one can come up with a satisfying answer, so we’ve come around to admitting that Beal’s rationale of several months ago is probably the honest truth: it is about the company’s corporate image.
As Beal’s Marjorie Roberts said to me, "Isn’t it a shame that you can see the smokestacks of HOVENSA from Betty’s Hope? Wouldn’t it be nice if St.Croix had a high-tech industrial park, like in Alabama or Texas?"
Well, we don’t. We do have land that is zoned and suited for Mr. Beal’s plans. It may not be quite as breathtakingly as beautiful as Great Pond Bay, but it’s a very appropriate site for his needs. There is no good reason why he should not locate his factory/world headquarters to the site he was negotiating for well over a year ago, and let us all move on to other business.

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After all that has been said regarding the Beal at Great Pond issue in the past months, it is hard to know what to add to all the reasonable, intelligent, and well-stated objections to the plans to build a rocket assembly factory at that South Shore site.
So perhaps, as a Senate vote on the land-swap is due on Oct. 5, it is time to recap some key points.
This is number one a land-use issue. That land, described as "vacant" by those of vacuous sensibility, is protected by federal designation, abuts the largest salt pond in the Virgin Islands, and is zoned W-1; waterfront pleasure. To quote our VI zoning laws, under W-1 "... areas which are available for recreation should be preserved and protected against intrusion of an industrial nature. ...Private residential areas abutting the waterfront should also be protected not only against commercial and industrial uses, but equally important, against pollution."
It is notable that in all of Beal’s extensive PR in the press and at all the public meetings at which it presents renderings of the projected assembly plant, the company has never shown the public the true size of this factory as it would look on that site. Rather, Beal represents it with a dot or small square somewhere on one small corner of its true footprint. Its size is so overwhelmingly huge that a realistic superimposition is shocking to people who see it for the first time. This is not an "office complex" as Beal has most recently described it.
This is also, and the St. Croix Environmental Association has never stated otherwise, an environmental issue. Beal’s plans to barge rockets out of Great Pond Bay and its admission at the Industrial Development Commission meeting last fall that the company has not ruled out the possibility of dredging that extremely shallow bay in order to be able to do so, make this very much an environmental concern.
Sustainable land use is an environmental issue. We have said again and again that St. Croix has land that is zoned industrial, where Beal could establish its plant. In fact, had Beal continued its negotiations with the Port Authority for the land it was considering over a year ago, land that is much more appropriate for its plans, they might be breaking ground right now, without the outcry and divisiveness that has been the inevitable result of the company’s arrogant insistence on the Great Pond site.
The rationale that Beal needs the "protected bay" is only the most recent justification for their intransigence, and is so much bunk, as anyone who knows the waters around the container port and Betty’s Hope can attest to. For the very few days when there might be ocean swells coming into that bay, a minor investment in a breakwater would be a simple solution. A lot simpler than trying to design a zero-draft fantasy barge to weave huge rockets through the patch reefs of Great Pond Bay.
Using the classic tactics of big money, Beal promises jobs and economic boosts and dangles this carrot, with conditions, in front of a community stressed by economic slump and government ineptitude. Beal is very well aware of the territory’s state of affairs and, indeed, is playing on that issue in hopes of getting what it wants; Great Pond or nothing. Governor Charles Turnbull has said we need Beal’s jobs and tax revenues. But Beal is asking for our IDC benefits, which it has acknowledged were instrumental in the company’s desire to come down here in the first place. In fact, the company has described it as "a wonderful program." And wonderful it must be, to make over $100 million with each satellite launch and pay virtually no taxes on that money for 20 years!
When asked by Channel 8 News whether it was surprising that St. Croix was putting up so much resistance to Beal locating here, given the Florida counties that may be courting Beal as well, Craig Covalt from Aviation Week & Space Technology answered that "St. Croix may be coming up in the world" noting that we are having to face some of the same difficult issues as other communities given such choices: issues of environmental degradation, and the impact to residents should such a facility locate in proximity to their neighborhood.
To voice honest concerns and insist on the integrity of our laws and our land use
may be one of the more mature things we as a community can do right now, as hard
as it may be.
Beal can continue to put its spin on its plans with expensive PR, throw parties with the Express Band and give away free T-shirts to count its supporters. Wade Gates, Beal’s director of Corporate Affairs, can continue his affable interviews and presentations: this is his job, and the money behind him is endless.
Those who are pushing for Beal and its Great Pond agenda continue to characterize the opposition as "a hand-full of so-called environmentalists." They are incorrect. The professional St. Croix Environmental Association is opposed to Beal at this location.
Respected individuals and organizations, from our Delegate to Congress Donna
Christian Christensen to the League of Women Voters and the Board of Realtors, question
that choice. The majority of the rest of us continue to ask, "Why there?"
No one can come up with a satisfying answer, so we’ve come around to admitting that Beal’s rationale of several months ago is probably the honest truth: it is about the company’s corporate image.
As Beal’s Marjorie Roberts said to me, "Isn’t it a shame that you can see the smokestacks of HOVENSA from Betty’s Hope? Wouldn’t it be nice if St.Croix had a high-tech industrial park, like in Alabama or Texas?"
Well, we don’t. We do have land that is zoned and suited for Mr. Beal’s plans. It may not be quite as breathtakingly as beautiful as Great Pond Bay, but it’s a very appropriate site for his needs. There is no good reason why he should not locate his factory/world headquarters to the site he was negotiating for well over a year ago, and let us all move on to other business.