This recent hurricane season has shown how vulnerable we are to natural weather forces. In a few short hours many people lost fruit trees which had taken a decade to grow. Fast moving water moved tons of dirt in a matter of minutes. In the same manner our community is vulnerable to the decisions of elected officials. Decisions made by persons elected for even two short years will affect several generations. A living example is the decision made by governmental officials in the 1960’s regarding the Mandahl Bay salt pond, which is affecting our present generation and will affect generations to come. In the search for economic prosperity, government land deeded to the people of the Virgin Islands, to benefit the educational advancement of the people, was leased to a private entity for its economic prosperity. In the same manner, seeking economic prosperity for St. Croix, the people of St. Croix voted for casino gambling on that island. I ask you to please evaluate for yourself how successful that venture has been for generating wealth for the population on the whole. Also, notice how the island which did not want, or vote for legalized gambling is now inundated on almost every corner with gaming machines. As the wealth of a few has increased, the crime in the community has increased for many. Where, should our true wealth lay? As a wise Indian man once said “Will we wait until the last tree has been cut down to realize that we can’t eat money?!”
With the political season coming to a close, I am not clear what many of the candidates really intend to do about the many environmental problems which confront us. Our community has been very vocal about environmental and economic issues in the last few years. Vessup Bay development (2004); Mandahl Bay marina development proposal (2009),; Lindbergh Bay (2009), the communication towers (2009), the lack of medical care or clinics in Frederiksted; the air pollution from Hovensa and the disposal of wastes at the landfills. Many of these problems are still pending, or unresolved, or just waiting for the people to forget to rear their ugly head. The federal government has been pushing Green Jobs and protection of the environment. Here in the Islands we are experiencing how Global warming has affected our Coral Reefs, a keystone species which will in turn affect our economy. Most of St. Croix’s tourism comes from ecotourism, in the form of the Triathlons, Jazz fests, historical/cultural tours, and historical/cultural/ agricultural fairs. Let us continue in that ecotourism vain on all four islands. Instead of trying to turn our environmental treasures into a manicured concrete jungle, let us protect our ecological treasures. Let’s accent our natural ecosystems with Green developments which harmonize with our environment, instead of paving it over. Thus, as we decide on whom to vote, ask in which direction are our elected officials taking us?
In the matter of Mandahl Bay marina development, it has been widely known from the 1970’s that the majority of the population did not want a marina development in that area. The plans for such a development have been turned down by CZM twice already. The development discussion was scheduled for a BLUA hearing three times this year, and each time cancelled. Let us admit that this lease was a bad deal from the inception. Let us end this issue now, and not force another generation to continue this fight. As persons seeking our vote, you need to be honest with the public. Where do you stand on the above issues? What are your creative, innovative, green plans for our Environmental future? How are you going to protect our ecological heritage if they are placed in your hands? What goals do you have that are not just short term financial benefits for a few, but long term sustainable and that are beneficial to the masses? A very concerned Virgin Islander,