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HomeNewsArchivesCAMP ARAWAK FUNDING EXISTS: DOES V.I. KNOW?

CAMP ARAWAK FUNDING EXISTS: DOES V.I. KNOW?

Sometimes the ironies of living in the Virgin Islands can almost overwhelm you.
A perfect case in point were the stories on the front page of the St. Croix Avis on March 21, 2000. The larger story on the right featured Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, while the smaller story on the lower left spoke of the Virgin Islands government’s effort to overturn in federal court the territorial court decision mandating the Camp Arawak property be developed as a recreational area.
The rational for seeking the overturn of the decision was stated as a lack of funding to carry out the mandates of the decision. The appeal prepared by the V.I. Attorney General’s office quotes Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Debra E. Gottlieb as stating that in essence, the estimated $1.4 million plan was too expensive to implement.
I know better and I reject the government’s argument as either a bold-faced lie or the grossest exhibition of ineptitude I have seen in my 16 years since returning home.
In any event, I’m not certain which scenario is worse.
On July 17, 1999 I wrote to the U.S. Department of the Interior to request information on the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program. I received a reply dated July 27, 1999 from Kenneth R. Compton, chief of the Recreation Programs Division. In this reply reference was made to several bills that had been introduced in Congress, including H.R. 701.
The letter was copied to V.I. Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson by virtue of his role as Virgin Islands State Liaison Officer. Later in the year I made a copy of the letter available to HPR once again in hopes that it would become proactive in seeking these funds.
This brings us to Rep. Young. On Feb. 16, 2000, scarcely one month prior to arriving in the territory, Young filed the bill report for H.R. 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1999.
In his words, "This legislation is the most comprehensive conservation and recreation legislation the Congress has considered in decades and provides permanent funding for valuable conservation and recreational opportunities that will benefit the lives of all Americans."
Young further states that, "Because of the breadth of this measure, H.R. 701 enjoys the support of 294 Members of Congress. These supporters range from the most southern areas of Florida to my most Northern home of Alaska. Countless governors, country commissioners, and mayors have rallied around this initiative."
Can someone explain to me why everyone in America knew about the bill except our Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation? The reason the bill is so popular is evident when one looks at the level of funding and the possibilities it offers for each community in America.
The bill offers in part:
·$1 billion each year to create a revenue sharing and coastal conservation fund for coastal states and eligible local governments. The intent of this legislation is to provide for conservation and recreational opportunities.
·$900 million to guarantee stable and annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its authorized level.
·$350 million for wildlife conservation and education.
·$125 million to be used for match grants for local governments to rehabilitate recreational areas and facilities and provide for the development of improved recreational programs, sites and facilities.
·$100 million for the programs within the Historic Preservation Act, including grants to states, maintaining the National Register of Historic Places, and administering numerous historic preservation programs, including support for Congressionally authorized Heritage areas and corridors.
·$200 million for a coordinated program on federal and Indian lands to restore degraded lands, protect resources that are threatened with degradation and protect public health and safety.
·$150 million for annual and dedicated funding for conservation easements and funding for landowner incentives to aid in the recovery of endangered and threatened species.
With this vast amount of money earmarked specifically to fund recreation, conservation and historic preservation efforts, is there anyone who can enlighten me as to why the government is seeking to overturn the Camp Arawak-Beal Aerospace decision? Wouldn’t that time and effort be better spent trying to get some of that $2.8 billion into our economically depressed island?
I was, quite frankly, overjoyed when I learned Rep. Young, who chairs the House Resources Committee, was a part of the contingent visiting the Virgin Islands. It was my impression that the leadership of the Virgin Islands had finally been able to marshal the resources of the federal government in an effort to turn the territory around.
Evidently, despite two copies of the letter regarding the H.R. 701 being sent to the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation, there was no follow up done to investigate whether or not the Virgin Islands was in the loop for this financial windfall.
I have serious doubts as to whether or not the subject was even broached with Young. Again, my optimism was proven ill placed as we missed yet another opportunity.
Our officials cannot be allowed to abdicate their responsibilities to the residents of these islands. Nobody said the job of governance would be easy and the fact that getting the funding takes a little effort on the part of the government should certainly not provide a reason to try and wiggle out of the mandate to develop the 14.5 acres. How about finding reasons to make something positive happen, rather than excuses why it can’t be accomplished?
We have arrived at a point where, for our survival, we must utilize innovative means of revenue enhancement and the aggressive identification of additional resources must be sought daily. This is not time for slackers to be on the payroll. Nor can we afford public officials who cannot get the job done.
As the old saying goes, "Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way."
Now that the cat is out of the bag, I have but one thing to say to the commissioner of the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation: Stop making excuses and do your job.
Emmett Hansen II is a Little League coach and the vice president for Community Affairs of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce. He is writing as a private citizen.

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Sometimes the ironies of living in the Virgin Islands can almost overwhelm you.
A perfect case in point were the stories on the front page of the St. Croix Avis on March 21, 2000. The larger story on the right featured Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, while the smaller story on the lower left spoke of the Virgin Islands government’s effort to overturn in federal court the territorial court decision mandating the Camp Arawak property be developed as a recreational area.
The rational for seeking the overturn of the decision was stated as a lack of funding to carry out the mandates of the decision. The appeal prepared by the V.I. Attorney General’s office quotes Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Debra E. Gottlieb as stating that in essence, the estimated $1.4 million plan was too expensive to implement.
I know better and I reject the government’s argument as either a bold-faced lie or the grossest exhibition of ineptitude I have seen in my 16 years since returning home.
In any event, I’m not certain which scenario is worse.
On July 17, 1999 I wrote to the U.S. Department of the Interior to request information on the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program. I received a reply dated July 27, 1999 from Kenneth R. Compton, chief of the Recreation Programs Division. In this reply reference was made to several bills that had been introduced in Congress, including H.R. 701.
The letter was copied to V.I. Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson by virtue of his role as Virgin Islands State Liaison Officer. Later in the year I made a copy of the letter available to HPR once again in hopes that it would become proactive in seeking these funds.
This brings us to Rep. Young. On Feb. 16, 2000, scarcely one month prior to arriving in the territory, Young filed the bill report for H.R. 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1999.
In his words, "This legislation is the most comprehensive conservation and recreation legislation the Congress has considered in decades and provides permanent funding for valuable conservation and recreational opportunities that will benefit the lives of all Americans."
Young further states that, "Because of the breadth of this measure, H.R. 701 enjoys the support of 294 Members of Congress. These supporters range from the most southern areas of Florida to my most Northern home of Alaska. Countless governors, country commissioners, and mayors have rallied around this initiative."
Can someone explain to me why everyone in America knew about the bill except our Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation? The reason the bill is so popular is evident when one looks at the level of funding and the possibilities it offers for each community in America.
The bill offers in part:
·$1 billion each year to create a revenue sharing and coastal conservation fund for coastal states and eligible local governments. The intent of this legislation is to provide for conservation and recreational opportunities.
·$900 million to guarantee stable and annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its authorized level.
·$350 million for wildlife conservation and education.
·$125 million to be used for match grants for local governments to rehabilitate recreational areas and facilities and provide for the development of improved recreational programs, sites and facilities.
·$100 million for the programs within the Historic Preservation Act, including grants to states, maintaining the National Register of Historic Places, and administering numerous historic preservation programs, including support for Congressionally authorized Heritage areas and corridors.
·$200 million for a coordinated program on federal and Indian lands to restore degraded lands, protect resources that are threatened with degradation and protect public health and safety.
·$150 million for annual and dedicated funding for conservation easements and funding for landowner incentives to aid in the recovery of endangered and threatened species.
With this vast amount of money earmarked specifically to fund recreation, conservation and historic preservation efforts, is there anyone who can enlighten me as to why the government is seeking to overturn the Camp Arawak-Beal Aerospace decision? Wouldn’t that time and effort be better spent trying to get some of that $2.8 billion into our economically depressed island?
I was, quite frankly, overjoyed when I learned Rep. Young, who chairs the House Resources Committee, was a part of the contingent visiting the Virgin Islands. It was my impression that the leadership of the Virgin Islands had finally been able to marshal the resources of the federal government in an effort to turn the territory around.
Evidently, despite two copies of the letter regarding the H.R. 701 being sent to the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation, there was no follow up done to investigate whether or not the Virgin Islands was in the loop for this financial windfall.
I have serious doubts as to whether or not the subject was even broached with Young. Again, my optimism was proven ill placed as we missed yet another opportunity.
Our officials cannot be allowed to abdicate their responsibilities to the residents of these islands. Nobody said the job of governance would be easy and the fact that getting the funding takes a little effort on the part of the government should certainly not provide a reason to try and wiggle out of the mandate to develop the 14.5 acres. How about finding reasons to make something positive happen, rather than excuses why it can’t be accomplished?
We have arrived at a point where, for our survival, we must utilize innovative means of revenue enhancement and the aggressive identification of additional resources must be sought daily. This is not time for slackers to be on the payroll. Nor can we afford public officials who cannot get the job done.
As the old saying goes, "Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way."
Now that the cat is out of the bag, I have but one thing to say to the commissioner of the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation: Stop making excuses and do your job.
Emmett Hansen II is a Little League coach and the vice president for Community Affairs of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce. He is writing as a private citizen.