Citing a potential negative impact on the quality of life of Virgin Islanders, the board of the West Indian Company Ltd. has suspended its plans for a new cruise ship pier in downtown St. Thomas, WICO said in a Wednesday press release.
The company had planned to call it Long Bay Landing.
WICO board chairman Randolph Knight said in the press release that the body "contemplated this decision intensely and at the heart of our decision to suspend the Long Bay Landing Project is the potential negative impact this project could have on the quality of life of Virgin Islanders as well as the visitor experience given the proposed location."
Board members felt they had limited information on the full environmental impact of the project and saw potential challenges arising from the added congestion on a key artery of the downtown area.
Board members were also concerned about the potential adverse impact on the natural beauty of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor as well as the fact that the proposed Long Bay Landing was not aligned with the already conceived $150-million-plus Charlotte Amalie Revitalization and Veterans Drive Design projects.
Knight pledged that members of the board and the executive staff will work diligently and expeditiously with the V.I. Port Authority, members of the Legislature, the community, and cruise partners to identify a more feasible location for a new pier.
"We recognize that the visitor demand for St. Thomas continues to grow and we want to remain the major player in the cruise market that we are," Knight said. "However, while this growth opportunity is critical, we must minimize the impact on our environment while enhancing the overall destination experience."
Knight, who also serves as Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s chief of staff, assured that the Virgin Islands government remains committed to finding an alternate location for a new pier while working with the partners in the cruise industry and the community.
"We have already communicated this shift to the key cruise partners who have been in dialogue with the territory on this project, and while this particular location poses many concerns it is in no way a signal that the Virgin Islands is not dedicated to building the necessary capacity for the growing cruise industry," Knight said.