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HomeNewsArchivesFYI: Wesselhoft Calls for Protection of Farmland

FYI: Wesselhoft Calls for Protection of Farmland

The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named below, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
May 1, 2007 – Senator-at-Large Carmen Wesselhoft is calling on the Department of Property and Procurement to protect Virgin Islands farmland.
Recent reports indicate that the agency is set to place its St. Croix motor pool on land designated for agricultural use. At issue is whether or not the land is part of the former VICORP, which by law can only be utilized for “agricultural purposes”.
“I have pulled the legislation and the law is clear on this,” Wesselhoft said. “What is not totally clear is whether or not this is VICORP land as I have not yet been able to see the maps. The officials at Property & Procurement must prove to me and the people of the Virgin Islands that this is not VICORP land before they go forward.”
Since taking office in January, Wesselhoft has expressed concern about the lack of maps indicating Government-owned properties. She made an additional formal request for maps in her most recent letter to Property & Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin.
“How can we grant leases, make plans for new schools, housing or anything else without an accurate picture of what Government land is actually available?” she asked.
Wesselfhoft is particularly concerned about the preservation of farmland. In her letter to Millin, she asks that the Commissioner reconsider the decision on the construction of the St. Croix motor pool.
“We must actively protect land where agriculture is viable given the current development boom and, if vehicles are to be serviced on this property, it is very likely that it will be too polluted to ever be reconverted for agriculture. Used motor oil and other chemicals are highly toxic and can quickly permeate soils and groundwater,” Wesselhoft wrote. “I hope this is simply a misunderstanding that can be addressed, but unfortunately this appears indicative of a general lack of support for agriculture here in the Virgin Islands. This Government must make a serious commitment to preserving farmland and supporting farmers and building a motor pool or parking lot on land designated for farming is totally unacceptable.”
Wesselhoft said a motor pool should not be placed on any land that is suitable for agriculture.
“There are sites on St. Croix where the soil is unfortunately already contaminated,” she said. “We should not put a motor pool on a piece of good farmland whether or not it is part of the VICORP parcel.”
After learning of the latest controversy involving the planned motor pool, the Senator-at-Large took immediate action. In addition to researching the legislation and writing Commissioner Millin, Wesselhoft contacted the V.I. Department of Agriculture and the St. Croix Farmers in Action, who have led the recent fight to protect farmland.
“We discussed bringing all the parties together to see if we can resolve this and I would like to help facilitate the process,” Wesselhoft said. “The Government can’t just continue paying lip service to the farmers. We must make a commitment to preserve land for agriculture, even when it is not convenient.”
She plans a future tour of all former VICORP properties in order ascertain their status.

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The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named below, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
May 1, 2007 – Senator-at-Large Carmen Wesselhoft is calling on the Department of Property and Procurement to protect Virgin Islands farmland.
Recent reports indicate that the agency is set to place its St. Croix motor pool on land designated for agricultural use. At issue is whether or not the land is part of the former VICORP, which by law can only be utilized for “agricultural purposes”.
“I have pulled the legislation and the law is clear on this,” Wesselhoft said. “What is not totally clear is whether or not this is VICORP land as I have not yet been able to see the maps. The officials at Property & Procurement must prove to me and the people of the Virgin Islands that this is not VICORP land before they go forward.”
Since taking office in January, Wesselhoft has expressed concern about the lack of maps indicating Government-owned properties. She made an additional formal request for maps in her most recent letter to Property & Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin.
“How can we grant leases, make plans for new schools, housing or anything else without an accurate picture of what Government land is actually available?” she asked.
Wesselfhoft is particularly concerned about the preservation of farmland. In her letter to Millin, she asks that the Commissioner reconsider the decision on the construction of the St. Croix motor pool.
“We must actively protect land where agriculture is viable given the current development boom and, if vehicles are to be serviced on this property, it is very likely that it will be too polluted to ever be reconverted for agriculture. Used motor oil and other chemicals are highly toxic and can quickly permeate soils and groundwater,” Wesselhoft wrote. “I hope this is simply a misunderstanding that can be addressed, but unfortunately this appears indicative of a general lack of support for agriculture here in the Virgin Islands. This Government must make a serious commitment to preserving farmland and supporting farmers and building a motor pool or parking lot on land designated for farming is totally unacceptable.”
Wesselhoft said a motor pool should not be placed on any land that is suitable for agriculture.
“There are sites on St. Croix where the soil is unfortunately already contaminated,” she said. “We should not put a motor pool on a piece of good farmland whether or not it is part of the VICORP parcel.”
After learning of the latest controversy involving the planned motor pool, the Senator-at-Large took immediate action. In addition to researching the legislation and writing Commissioner Millin, Wesselhoft contacted the V.I. Department of Agriculture and the St. Croix Farmers in Action, who have led the recent fight to protect farmland.
“We discussed bringing all the parties together to see if we can resolve this and I would like to help facilitate the process,” Wesselhoft said. “The Government can’t just continue paying lip service to the farmers. We must make a commitment to preserve land for agriculture, even when it is not convenient.”
She plans a future tour of all former VICORP properties in order ascertain their status.