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HomeNewsArchivesVINP COMMERCIAL PLAN READY FOR PUBLIC REVIEW

VINP COMMERCIAL PLAN READY FOR PUBLIC REVIEW

Seventeen years after the V.I. National Park's general management plan was adopted, a commercial services plan implementing many of its recommendations is just weeks away from being finalized.
Park Superintendent John King and acting planner Jim Owens on Monday unveiled the draft commercial services plan for the park, beginning a 30-day period of public review before King submits his final recommendation to the NPS regional headquarters in Atlanta. The nearly 100-page plan includes proposed actions and alternatives covering an array of current commercial activities from taxis to day-sails and proposes some new ones, including operations of a commercial pumpout station for boaters and of the Park Service dock at Red Hook.
It also proposes steps toward developing Hassel Island as a tourist destination, limiting some commercial tour groups in both venues and numbers of permits, as well as limiting the number of visitors in such groups at the most popular locations.
"What this plan seeks to do is identify appropriate and inappropriate commercial uses in the park, and then figure out the numbers," King said. "The V.I. National Park is experiencing incredible visitation pressures, and that calls for long-range management of commercial uses."
In particular, King said, the continuing increase in cruise-ship passengers creates demand for new and expanded commercial activities at the park, but "without management of and limitations on this growth, increasing visitation will quickly exceed the park's infrastructure capacity and outstrip its ability to provide a quality visitor experience. User conflicts, crowding and congestion can be expected to become commonplace."
Indeed, Owens said Monday that the most difficult issue addressed in the plan is that of land transportation — taxi vans, safari taxis, rental vehicles and the like, which have contributed to traffic congestion in Cruz Bay and parking overflow at many popular beaches.
"Many are run by tour operators for cruise ship passengers, but there's also hotel tours, resort tours and so on. There just has not been much regulation in this area over the years," Owen said.
The park service only regulates cruise ship passenger tours within the park, and the plan's proposed action would expand that purview by requiring that all land-based commercial transport within the park be provided by one service provider.
The draft commercial services plan also suggests initial steps toward making Hassel Island, which has no park facilities now, a tourist destination.
"Right now, it's simply not safe," King said. "There have to be some improvements, particularly of docking facilities. We'd like to see it developed as a new visitor venue to take some of the pressure off St. John, particularly since the cruise lines continue to project growth."
The plan proposes selecting a non-profit organization to act as a "friends of the park"-type group to help the park service find funds to develop visitor service programs at Hassel Island. A recreational use fee — the island was approved in 1999 as a Recreational Fee Demonstration Program site — would help fund the upgrading and restoration of facilities there as well as historic and cultural programs.
Also among the draft commercial services plan's proposed actions:
– Create separate new concessions at Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, including food service, rental equipment, storage lockers and merchandising.
– Create new concessions for collecting mooring and anchoring fees.
– Create new concessions for Reef Bay Trail hiker pickup.
– Close to any commercial vessel part of Hawksnest Bay, Denis Bay, Jumbie Bay, Francis Bay beach, Mary Creek and the NPS part of Haulover Bay (except for authorized scuba trips) and all bays on the south shore without moorings.
– Set a limit of 50 passengers per commercial vessel, except for Trunk Bay cruise ship transport.
The draft plan is available for public review at the Elaine I. Sprauve Public Library and the National Park Visitor Contact Station on St. John; the Enid M. Baa Public Library on St. Thomas; and National Park Service Headquarters in Christiansted, St. Croix. It can also be viewed at www.nps.gov/viis or on the Friends of the V.I. National Park's Web site. For an electronic copy, e-mail npplanning@islands.vi.
Comments on the plan should be postmarked by March 20 and addressed to: Planning Office, National Park Service, Virgin Islands National Park, P.O. Box 710, St. John, USVI 00831, or e-mailed to npplanning@islands.vi.
The park will also hold a series of open houses for discussion of the plan in March at locations and times to be announced soon.

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Seventeen years after the V.I. National Park's general management plan was adopted, a commercial services plan implementing many of its recommendations is just weeks away from being finalized.
Park Superintendent John King and acting planner Jim Owens on Monday unveiled the draft commercial services plan for the park, beginning a 30-day period of public review before King submits his final recommendation to the NPS regional headquarters in Atlanta. The nearly 100-page plan includes proposed actions and alternatives covering an array of current commercial activities from taxis to day-sails and proposes some new ones, including operations of a commercial pumpout station for boaters and of the Park Service dock at Red Hook.
It also proposes steps toward developing Hassel Island as a tourist destination, limiting some commercial tour groups in both venues and numbers of permits, as well as limiting the number of visitors in such groups at the most popular locations.
"What this plan seeks to do is identify appropriate and inappropriate commercial uses in the park, and then figure out the numbers," King said. "The V.I. National Park is experiencing incredible visitation pressures, and that calls for long-range management of commercial uses."
In particular, King said, the continuing increase in cruise-ship passengers creates demand for new and expanded commercial activities at the park, but "without management of and limitations on this growth, increasing visitation will quickly exceed the park's infrastructure capacity and outstrip its ability to provide a quality visitor experience. User conflicts, crowding and congestion can be expected to become commonplace."
Indeed, Owens said Monday that the most difficult issue addressed in the plan is that of land transportation — taxi vans, safari taxis, rental vehicles and the like, which have contributed to traffic congestion in Cruz Bay and parking overflow at many popular beaches.
"Many are run by tour operators for cruise ship passengers, but there's also hotel tours, resort tours and so on. There just has not been much regulation in this area over the years," Owen said.
The park service only regulates cruise ship passenger tours within the park, and the plan's proposed action would expand that purview by requiring that all land-based commercial transport within the park be provided by one service provider.
The draft commercial services plan also suggests initial steps toward making Hassel Island, which has no park facilities now, a tourist destination.
"Right now, it's simply not safe," King said. "There have to be some improvements, particularly of docking facilities. We'd like to see it developed as a new visitor venue to take some of the pressure off St. John, particularly since the cruise lines continue to project growth."
The plan proposes selecting a non-profit organization to act as a "friends of the park"-type group to help the park service find funds to develop visitor service programs at Hassel Island. A recreational use fee — the island was approved in 1999 as a Recreational Fee Demonstration Program site — would help fund the upgrading and restoration of facilities there as well as historic and cultural programs.
Also among the draft commercial services plan's proposed actions:
- Create separate new concessions at Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, including food service, rental equipment, storage lockers and merchandising.
- Create new concessions for collecting mooring and anchoring fees.
- Create new concessions for Reef Bay Trail hiker pickup.
- Close to any commercial vessel part of Hawksnest Bay, Denis Bay, Jumbie Bay, Francis Bay beach, Mary Creek and the NPS part of Haulover Bay (except for authorized scuba trips) and all bays on the south shore without moorings.
- Set a limit of 50 passengers per commercial vessel, except for Trunk Bay cruise ship transport.
The draft plan is available for public review at the Elaine I. Sprauve Public Library and the National Park Visitor Contact Station on St. John; the Enid M. Baa Public Library on St. Thomas; and National Park Service Headquarters in Christiansted, St. Croix. It can also be viewed at www.nps.gov/viis or on the Friends of the V.I. National Park's Web site. For an electronic copy, e-mail npplanning@islands.vi.
Comments on the plan should be postmarked by March 20 and addressed to: Planning Office, National Park Service, Virgin Islands National Park, P.O. Box 710, St. John, USVI 00831, or e-mailed to npplanning@islands.vi.
The park will also hold a series of open houses for discussion of the plan in March at locations and times to be announced soon.