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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesEfforts Being Made to Protect East End Land

Efforts Being Made to Protect East End Land

St. John attorney Rafael F. Muilenburg, and his wife, Thia, are spearheading a Friends of Haulover effort to protect 3.61 acres of land at Haulover from development through a process called conservation loans.
"It will really make a difference, Haulover is one of the most beautiful places on St. John," Rafael F. Muilenburg said.
The land, on the island’s East End, includes a hillside suitable for condominium development plus the narrow Haulover isthmus erroneously thought by many residents and visitors to be part of V.I. National Park.
People regularly park their cars among the trees to use the sand and rocky beach on the south side that fronts on Round Bay. They also walk the trail through the property to reach another rocky beach on the north side.
The property abuts the national park and Coral Reef National Monument. The federal government does not have the money to buy it, but the park’s resource management chief, Rafe Boulon, said the park would welcome adding this acreage.
Currently, the park is focusing its efforts on wrapping up the purchase of the Maho Bay watershed area, Boulon said. The nonprofit group Trust for Public Land bought the Maho Bay land with the intent of turning it over to the National Park Service when the federal government pays for it.
Additionally, Boulon said the park wants the land where Maho Bay Camps sits. The Trust is currently negotiating with the Giri-Giri Corp. to buy that property. Maho Bay’s lease on the property expires in 2012, and if the Trust is unsuccessful, Giri-Giri will likely sell the property to a developer.
Muilenburg doesn’t want that to happen to the Haulover property. To prevent that scenario, he’s recruiting people to make no-interest conservation loans to The Conservation Fund, a non-profit group similar to the Trust. The Conservation Fund would then buy the 3.61 acres and hold it until the federal government can come up with the funding. Muilenburg said that once the park buys the land from the Conservation Fund, those who made the loans would get their money back.
"We also need some donors to give smaller amounts to make this happen," Muilenburg said.
According to Muilenburg, Friends of Haulover has received some large loans but needs a total of about $800,000 to seal the deal. Information provided by Muilenburg indicated that this is about one-third of the property’s list price. He also indicated that the seller is willing to accept the lower price because he’s interested in conserving the property.
The area is zoned R-2, which allows for condominium development.
Muilenburg declined to name the property owner.
Time is important. Muilenburg said a developer is due shortly on island to inspect the property.
For more information, email Muilenburg at rafstjohn@gmail.com.

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