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Senate Committee Approves Beach Access Fund

May 28, 2008 — A bill that would set aside money to buy land or easements to ensure public beach access was voted out of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee Wednesday with a favorable recommendation.
The Beach Access Account would be a separate account within the V.I. Land Bank Fund. Under V.I. law, the public has a right to access to all beaches and shoreline up to 50 feet from mean low tide — although what is meant by "access" is not so clearly defined. The Land Bank Fund was set up by the Legislature to set aside funds so the government can purchase real property for public housing, outdoor recreation, conservation or any other public uses.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Alvin Williams, argued the bill would make it easier for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to access funds for beach-access easements. Under the bill, DPNR would not have to compete for Land Bank Fund money with other entities and interests, such as the building of public housing, Williams said.
DPNR attorney Winston Brathwaite initially testified against the bill, but Williams persuaded Brathwaite to change his position.
While DPNR supports the bill's goals, Brathwaite said, the department believes the Landbank Fund can be used for purchasing beach easements as it is now, without amendment.
"DPNR is in full support of the goals of the amendment, but feels current law sufficient," Brathwaite said.
But after Williams argued that a separate account would mean DPNR would not have to compete for Landbank funds, Brathwaite turned around.
"Prior to my coming here, my position was that there is already a fund to be accessed," he said. "However, it is money we compete for, so I believe if there is a separate fund with money in it which we do not have to compete for, that would be beneficial."
The Beach Access Account would be initially funded with $250,000 unspent from a 2001 appropriation for drainage repair near Lucinda Millin Home alongside Paul M. Pearson Gardens.
In its original form, the Beach Access Account would first have to be used to acquire an access to Little Magens Bay and Sunchi Beach on St. Thomas. Sen. James Weber III offered an amendment to the bill eliminating that requirement. Weber's amendment passed by unanimous consent without a roll-call vote. The bill as amended was forwarded for consideration by the Committee on Rules and Judiciary with a favorable recommendation. Voting yea were Williams, Weber, Sens. Usie R. Richards, Carmen M. Wesselhoft and Norman Jn Baptiste. Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville voted nay and Sen. Celestino White was absent.
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May 28, 2008 -- A bill that would set aside money to buy land or easements to ensure public beach access was voted out of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee Wednesday with a favorable recommendation.
The Beach Access Account would be a separate account within the V.I. Land Bank Fund. Under V.I. law, the public has a right to access to all beaches and shoreline up to 50 feet from mean low tide -- although what is meant by "access" is not so clearly defined. The Land Bank Fund was set up by the Legislature to set aside funds so the government can purchase real property for public housing, outdoor recreation, conservation or any other public uses.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Alvin Williams, argued the bill would make it easier for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to access funds for beach-access easements. Under the bill, DPNR would not have to compete for Land Bank Fund money with other entities and interests, such as the building of public housing, Williams said.
DPNR attorney Winston Brathwaite initially testified against the bill, but Williams persuaded Brathwaite to change his position.
While DPNR supports the bill's goals, Brathwaite said, the department believes the Landbank Fund can be used for purchasing beach easements as it is now, without amendment.
"DPNR is in full support of the goals of the amendment, but feels current law sufficient," Brathwaite said.
But after Williams argued that a separate account would mean DPNR would not have to compete for Landbank funds, Brathwaite turned around.
"Prior to my coming here, my position was that there is already a fund to be accessed," he said. "However, it is money we compete for, so I believe if there is a separate fund with money in it which we do not have to compete for, that would be beneficial."
The Beach Access Account would be initially funded with $250,000 unspent from a 2001 appropriation for drainage repair near Lucinda Millin Home alongside Paul M. Pearson Gardens.
In its original form, the Beach Access Account would first have to be used to acquire an access to Little Magens Bay and Sunchi Beach on St. Thomas. Sen. James Weber III offered an amendment to the bill eliminating that requirement. Weber's amendment passed by unanimous consent without a roll-call vote. The bill as amended was forwarded for consideration by the Committee on Rules and Judiciary with a favorable recommendation. Voting yea were Williams, Weber, Sens. Usie R. Richards, Carmen M. Wesselhoft and Norman Jn Baptiste. Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville voted nay and Sen. Celestino White was absent.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.