Responding immediately to complaints from longtime visitors that appeared in local media on Wednesday about the practice of renting beach chairs at Coki Point, Commissioner-nominee of Sports, Parks and Recreation Calvert White called a meeting Wednesday morning at the department’s office at Sub Base on St. Thomas to address the issue.
White met with all the vendors who rent beach chairs at Coki Point beach, as well as with other stakeholders and representatives of the Property and Procurement Department, the Tourism Department, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and the V.I. Police Department.
He reminded the vendors that current rules and regulations prohibit the practice of arranging beach chairs in place before they are rented and obscuring beach views, as well as safety issues of obstructing the views of swimmers.
All vendors, who were given the opportunity to address concerns without penalty at Wednesday’s meeting, acknowledged receiving copies of the rules and regulations and agreed that the practice was prohibited.
Vendors also acknowledged that their employees cannot approach taxis or safaris on the way to the beach and must wait until the beachgoer asks to rent a beach chair or other equipment.
Among the issues raised and the rules and regulations emphasized were the following:
Vendors are not allowed to place beach chairs on the beach unless the chair has been rented.
Vendors may not tell residents or visitors that they are not allowed sit at any specific place on the beach, as the entire beach is public.
Other issues addressed at the meeting Wednesday morning included: The poor condition of the privately-owned parking lot at Coki Point. Narcotics/marijuana use and availability on beaches.
“The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation is committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience to locals and visitors on all public beaches,” White said. “Disregard for the rules and regulations will not be tolerated. I would like to thank all the vendors, VIPD, DLCA, Tourism, Property and Procurement, The St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator’s Office and the Office of Sen. Athneil “Bobby” Thomas for attending the meeting to address this situation immediately.”
All public beaches in the territory are under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Virgin Islands and of the Sports, Parks and Recreation Department.