Open forum: Soldier Crab Housing

Ivan Butcher II

Dear Source:

As a youth, I was told by my grandfather to always try to make a positive out of a negative situation.

The Negative feelings being expressed concerning the influx of new residents, and that they are buying up all available properties, and even paying off delinquent property taxes, while those from here with the ability to invest are leaving or are investing in other communities.

A lot of the feedback is that this is America, the properties are for sale, and that Virgin Islanders are leave going Stateside. Yes, but the difference is that Virgin Islanders are not all going to one location. Wherever they choose to settle they will be absorbed into the populace. Here with the influx of all of the new residents, the impact is saturating.

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The Positive: they will not stay; they will have to leave. I have lived here long enough and I have witnessed they will leave for the same reasons, the frustrating condition that have Virgin Islanders leaving to go elsewhere.

Let them build and refurbish housing, develop businesses, this time when the exodus begins like soldier crabs claim and reclaim the properties that will become available.

My reasoning:

Healthcare has been at the top of the list for many, especially for senior citizens and those with chronic ailments.

Women generally have more attachment to their families, which will cause serious detachment anxiety: the missing back home, children, grandchildren, friends, etc. Now, the men, if they are comfortable at work, have a sport or activity they enjoy and has their choice of intoxication, they can pretty much settle anywhere.

The lack of the amenities, a ten-minute stroll around Sunny Isle, would soon wear thin, the Mall experience here on St. Croix. Those with the means can always fly out often enough, but the others will have to drive all over the islands for different services and venues.

They will not be able to escape the daily frustrations of the disrepair of the infrastructure: power outages, damaged roads, night driving, not being able to find competent workers to build or to repair their properties, the unavailability of materials and supplies, delays in shipments, etc.

They will also leave for the same reason that has had so many Virgin Islanders to leave, the storm conditions beyond anyone’s control.

Then there will be those who try to isolate themselves. I remember after Hugo how many of them ended up stranded alone, with no one looking out for them.

Just like those of us here, many of them didn’t get along with others from where they are from, and they will not get along with each other here. Those with negative attitudes, about others here, will be taking the risk that they are speaking to a longtime local resident, that does not agree with their orientation and that they will be “Called-Out.”

The opportunity to claim and reclaim will exist, for some of them this is just flipping, a business investment, buy and sell for a profit.

I have questioned many times, what is the reason why housing, businesses, tourist venues to create jobs are not built, not owned or operated by the associations, the churches, the nonprofit organizations, the sororities, the fraternities, etc., especially the taxi association here?

Buy blocks instead putting your savings in the bank making minimum interest, especially if you have property. This is what I was told by an Elder when I moved to St. Croix.

As the vocational department head, we initiated an apprenticeship program at Elena Christian JHS, where those students with an open schedule, for whatever reason, instead of sending them to the study-hall, they would be assigned to assist Mr. Roberts and Mr. Byram, who were responsible for school maintenance, giving the students the opportunity to learn how to apply the skills they were learning in the classroom.

We had expanded the program, where on the weekends, especially for senior citizens, if they purchase the material some of the students supervised would do the work.

I personally as a government retiree owed tens of thousands of dollars, would in exchange take the equivalent in government property, and I feel that there are many others would accept the same solution to alleviate the Government’s dept (sic). This would be one way to stimulate the economy, by putting land back into the hands of local Virgin Islanders. The taxes generated and all of the related needed goods and services would benefit the entire community.

What amazes me is the denial about global warming, especially by the youth. Their state of mind reminds me of the children’s story about the grasshopper and ants.

The story is about the grasshopper, who was always just aimlessly hopping all about doing nothing, not like the ants who were always constantly working. So, one day the grasshopper stops one of the ants, asking why are they always working, and why don’t they stop and have some fun?

The ant told him if he didn’t prepare for the winter, that he would be sorry. Needless to say, the grasshopper didn’t take heed, so when winter came and the snow fell the grasshopper was out in the cold beating on the ants’ door for food and shelter…

Don’t end up like the grasshopper, work together and pool your resources, like they do… If it works for them it will work for You!

Ivan Butcher II
St. Croix

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  1. The tenor of your opinion piece makes me a little sad. If I am reading it right, you hope that transplants to the island will give up, and you can then reap the benefits of their hard work and investment. That is really cynical and unkind. You imply that people come here to exploit the local population, or to run away from their life elsewhere. That may be true of some, but people in general are mobile creatures. They move for a variety of reasons. Yes, living here is hard, but it could be easier. Perhaps the focus should be on making life in these beautiful islands better for ALL. The only part of your article I agree with is the story of the ant. I am one of those busy little ants, who rather than party all the time, understands a thing or two about hard work and delayed-gratification. That is why I pay my taxes BEFORE I reward myself for my hard work. That is why I go to work every day. That is why I continually educate myself so that I can adapt to changing conditions. That is why I invest in property and stocks. These are not showy or blingy things, like luxury cars or jewelry, but rather things that grow in value. I like to think that my presence here has been a blessing for the many people who I have had the privilege to help, either through employment or just being a friend in deed.

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