Nov. 23, 2003 — Officials of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources are telling the new property owners of a popular east St. Thomas beach front to take down a six-foot chain-link fence put up there late last week.
Representatives of V.I. Investments, LLC, were quoted in media reports that they were fencing off the property to keep the area safe from criminals and to protect themselves from liability from swimming accidents. But one top government official says that does not allow them to cut off public access.
Bathers and motorists passing by the roadside entrance to Lindqvist Beach say the fence appeared Thursday, blocking the entrance.
On Friday, DPNR Commissioner Dean Plaskett said he had received advance notice of the fence's construction in a letter dated Nov. 6 from attorney George Dudley, who represents V.I. Investments.
The letter announced the owner's intention to reconstruct the fence and to give a key to Doris Lindqvist, who still owns a portion of the property inside the boundaries. V.I. Investments said they would also grant access to DPNR "upon request" so it could continue to monitor water quality at Lindqvist Beach.
Environmental activist Jason Budson said he was disturbed by the latest developments. Lindqvist Beach is one of a dwindling number of St. Thomas beaches that had not seen the encroachment of hotels and other private properties.
"I couldn't imagine anyone trying to get by that fence," Budson said Friday. "It was almost impossible to squeeze or get around that area. After the rain we just experienced, people who are looking forward to going to the beach will come to find out they can't get their cars in there and they themselves can't come in."
What's particularly vexing to Senator-at-Large Almando "Rocky" Liburd is the nearly lost opportunity for the V.I. government to acquire Lindqvist. Liburd sponsored an appropriations bill that provided funding for the beach's acquisition.
"One of the most popular beaches in the Virgin Islands has been blocked off," Liburd said, "even though we have an access law that prohibits anyone from denying access to the public beaches. I hope DPNR enforces that law."
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