At the request of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Summers End Group resubmitted its application for a 145-slip marina in Coral Bay. The 75 public moorings listed in the original application are not included in the most recent application.
Summers End principal Chaliese Summers said Monday in an emailed statement that the 75 public moorings were only mentioned in the original application as “potential” mitigation for environmental damage, not as part of the application.
However, under “nature of activity,” the original application indicates 75 moorings will be installed with Helix anchoring systems. And under project purpose the original application indicates Summers End will “manage 75 moorings throughout Coral Harbor as a public private partnership with DPNR,” referring to the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
In the statement issued in response to the Monday phone call, Summers indicated that, “Cleaning up and then providing proper harbor management is vital in answering the critical environmental needs currently being experienced in Coral Harbor. As part of the St. John Marina project, the Summers End Group has been leading the charge to restoring Coral Bay marine environment,” she said.
Summers also wrote that the “co-management plan was being developed with the previous administration. With respect to our new administration, SEG is coordinating with them to identify the direction that they feel will work best with the public mooring areas.”
According to information on the Army Corps website concerning the resubmitted application, Summers End plans “to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment.” It indicates that Summers End plans to plant red mangroves amid the riprap along the entire waterfront.
Additionally, watershed management will be undertaken both on site and in the surrounding watershed to improve runoff water quality, informational buoys will be placed to warn boaters of shallow reefs and seagrass beds, and an intensive cleanup of the bay removing derelict vessels from the seafloor that are impacting seagrass will be undertaken, the web site indicates.
As for the removal of the derelict vessels, Coral Bay Community Council has already begun that project using a $90,000 NOAA Marine Debris Removal grant. It’s matched with $48,848 worth of in-kind volunteer work, services and matching funds for a total project value of $138,848.
Both the original and resubmitted applications call for 1,333 pilings to be driven to support the docks.
According to the Army Corps website page on the resubmitted application, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yanked the bulk of its $1.3 million Boating Infrastructure Grant to Summers End in March because it had environmental concerns, Fish and Wildlife could no longer serve as the lead agency. This meant that the Army Corps was now the lead agency and a new comment period was warranted.
While no one could be reached for comment at the Army Corps office in Puerto Rico or the public information office in Jacksonville, Fla., David Silverman of the Save Coral Bay organization said that the Army Corps deemed that the original application was incomplete after it took over as the lead agency.
Save Coral Bay is an ad hoc committee formed by Coral Bay residents and others to oppose the marina on environmental grounds and its negative impact on the community.
The public has until Aug. 24 to comment to the Army Corps on the resubmitted application.
The Army Corps also indicated the public could request a public hearing on the resubmitted application.
The Summers End Marina is one of two in the works for Coral Bay. The second is Sirius Resort and Marina.
The Summers End project was strongly opposed by many members of the public who spoke out at an Aug. 20, 2014, Coastal Zone Management Committee hearing on St. John. Despite the opposition, the two members of the committee who could vote at the Oct. 1, 2014, decision meeting both agreed to give Summers End the required CZM permit so the project could move forward.
The project garnered comments from the public as well as several federal agencies. None, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, wrote in favor of the project.
The current request for comment link can be found at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices/tabid/6072/Article/607770/saj-2004-12518-sp-jcm.aspx.
Comments can also be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Save Coral Bay requested that it receive copies of the comments at email@example.com.
One can also write to José A. Cedeño-Maldonado at Antilles Permits Section, 400 Fernández Juncos Avenue, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901-3299. Refer to SAJ-2004-12518 (SP-JCM) – Coral Bay Marina.