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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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We Cannot Walk Away From This

Dear Source:
In response to the letter from George C. Parrot, I hear some sour grapes in Mr. Parrot's letter and I understand his frustration. I am grateful that he had the desire to get our Government on board all those years ago, and I am sad that our leaders lacked environmental vision and responsibility at that time. However, we all know that our VI Government has made countless mistakes over the years, as have most of us, flawed human beings that we are. This does not mean that mistakes cannot be rectified, that perspectives cannot be changed, that we have to give up our vision of what is right for the people and the children of these precious Virgin Islands.
We cannot afford to throw our hands up and walk away, as we have done so often in the past. We – you and I – are our Government and it is our job to hold our Government agencies accountable to their mandates and to encourage them to make wise decisions within the scope of their mandates.
Change happens when the people speak. When the people are silent, nothing happens, or, worse yet, greed, arrogance, stupidity and misuse or abuse of power flourishes unchecked.
Let us not give up because we were hurt or 'burned' in the past; let us redouble our efforts to join the momentum of change that we know is in the air now. The time was obviously not right before, but it is right now. I can feel it.
Let us ask the questions – you and I – all of us…
What enduring benefit could the people, young and old, of the Virgin Islands possibly gain by allowing Thatch Cay to be developed? Aren't there enough places in the world for the rich to vacation already?
What could the CZM possibly gain by voting to allow Mandahl Bay to be developed? We already know what the people will lose – they have articulated the losses in unprecedented force and numbers.
What could the developers of either project possibly want or gain that they do not already have? another home? another vacation spot? more money? more prestige? more debt?
Where are the consciences of the human beings involved in both of these developments? Is it all about money and short-term gain?
Where are the consciences of the human beings on the CZM committee and the Senate Committee – have they heard the people? or don't the people matter?
What would it take to just say no? Money? How much?
What would it take to impose a moratorium on all Coastal Zone development until there is a comprehensive land and water use plan on the law books?
If the environmental and social conscience of all parties comes into alignment in favor of leaving these properties as natural as they are today, I believe there are workable solutions to be found that would compensate the investors financially. There is money already spent, there are property taxes to be paid and the land has a value in today's market.
Maybe there should be a land fund – a charitable entity created by the people of the Virgin Islands that people can donate to, make bequests to, so that we are not at the mercy of the financially strapped VI Government to buy out developers in the future.
Thanks for giving me the space to voice my opinion.
Corinne Van Rensselaer
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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Dear Source:
In response to the letter from George C. Parrot, I hear some sour grapes in Mr. Parrot's letter and I understand his frustration. I am grateful that he had the desire to get our Government on board all those years ago, and I am sad that our leaders lacked environmental vision and responsibility at that time. However, we all know that our VI Government has made countless mistakes over the years, as have most of us, flawed human beings that we are. This does not mean that mistakes cannot be rectified, that perspectives cannot be changed, that we have to give up our vision of what is right for the people and the children of these precious Virgin Islands.
We cannot afford to throw our hands up and walk away, as we have done so often in the past. We - you and I - are our Government and it is our job to hold our Government agencies accountable to their mandates and to encourage them to make wise decisions within the scope of their mandates.
Change happens when the people speak. When the people are silent, nothing happens, or, worse yet, greed, arrogance, stupidity and misuse or abuse of power flourishes unchecked.
Let us not give up because we were hurt or 'burned' in the past; let us redouble our efforts to join the momentum of change that we know is in the air now. The time was obviously not right before, but it is right now. I can feel it.
Let us ask the questions - you and I - all of us...
What enduring benefit could the people, young and old, of the Virgin Islands possibly gain by allowing Thatch Cay to be developed? Aren't there enough places in the world for the rich to vacation already?
What could the CZM possibly gain by voting to allow Mandahl Bay to be developed? We already know what the people will lose - they have articulated the losses in unprecedented force and numbers.
What could the developers of either project possibly want or gain that they do not already have? another home? another vacation spot? more money? more prestige? more debt?
Where are the consciences of the human beings involved in both of these developments? Is it all about money and short-term gain?
Where are the consciences of the human beings on the CZM committee and the Senate Committee - have they heard the people? or don't the people matter?
What would it take to just say no? Money? How much?
What would it take to impose a moratorium on all Coastal Zone development until there is a comprehensive land and water use plan on the law books?
If the environmental and social conscience of all parties comes into alignment in favor of leaving these properties as natural as they are today, I believe there are workable solutions to be found that would compensate the investors financially. There is money already spent, there are property taxes to be paid and the land has a value in today's market.
Maybe there should be a land fund - a charitable entity created by the people of the Virgin Islands that people can donate to, make bequests to, so that we are not at the mercy of the financially strapped VI Government to buy out developers in the future.
Thanks for giving me the space to voice my opinion.
Corinne Van Rensselaer
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.