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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024


May 2, 2002 – The man responsible for maintaining Magens Bay beach as a scenic tourist attraction, a popular recreation area and a nature preserve says he'd be happy to take on a new challenge on St. Thomas's East End.
A Senate bill on its way to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull calls for the government to purchase 21 acres of undeveloped property that includes Lindqvist Beach. Located just east of Smith Bay, the 900-foot sandy stretch of undeveloped shoreline has been a popular liming spot for locals for years.
If the deal goes through, lawmakers say they would like to see management of the property come under the auspices of the Magens Bay Authority. The authority's general manager, Bill Jowers, has been keeping watch over the Magens beach for more than 20 years.
"I would love to see Lindqvist Beach preserved," Jowers said. "It's a beautiful beach, and the authority — whatever our limited involvement may be — would be willing to help."
Jowers recalled his days as a youth, visiting the private East End beach for events organized by what was then called the Dutch Reformed Church.
Today, a short walk through some chest-high grass takes visitors off the Smith Bay road to a sandy lane running parallel to the beach. The smooth strip of sand is ringed by sea grape and mahogany trees. The shoreline opens out into a wide vista of sea and sky.
An old abandoned bath house is the only sign of civilization.
There was talk for years of building a resort on the site, but it never happened — although the property is zoned for development as a hotel or for seaside recreational use. One deterrent has been the existence of four acres of wetlands that would have to be protected.
In November, the group of individuals who own the land put it on the market with $3.5 million as the asking price.
"Lindqvist Beach is the last prime beachfront property available on St. Thomas, and we as leaders should do everything within our powers to protect and preserve this pristine piece of property for future generations to enjoy," Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said in a release this week.
The Senate on April 22 approved an appropriation of up to $3.5 million from the interest earned on bond proceeds to pay for the land.
The governor has not made any public statements about the government acquiring Lindqvist Beach. However, Government House spokeswoman Rena Jacobs McBrowne said on Thursday that his legal advisers "did say the governor is in favor of acquiring Lindqvist Beach as part of the territory's park system." She said Turnbull had been talking with the lawyers about ways to bring about the acquisition about.
Given the area's wetlands, the Planning and Natural Resources Department already has been looking for funds and programs to make preservation a viable option.
Jowers said that with proper infrastructure and management, Lindqvist Beach could pay for itself and have its value as a natural resource preserved at the same time.
For now, he says, talk of expanding the scope of the Magens Bay Authority is just that — talk. "There was talk in the past," he said, but nothing official in the way of a formal proposal.
Still, he speaks about the idea of managing Lindqvist Beach with enthusaism, ticking off steps that could be taken to shape the property into an attractive public venue. "It is a totally wild place," he said. "It needs to be tamed properly."

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