Bill Authorizing Lease of V.I. National Park Land Passes House of Representatives

Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen’s bill to provide land for a school on St. John cleared another hurdle on Monday, October 22, as the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 53, sending it to the United States Senate for further consideration. H.R. 53 authorizes the Secretary of Interior to enter into a long-term lease with the government of the Virgin Islands to provide land for the school.

Christensen proposed H.R 53 in January and hosted hearings on St. John in July. The bill cleared the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, which she chairs, on September 20, and the Natural Resources Committee on October 10. 

“Today’s vote by the House of Representatives is a historic milestone in our journey to secure a badly needed school for the children of St. John,” Christensen said. “I want to thank my colleagues, especially the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and the One Campus group, for all of the work they are doing to ensure that the school becomes a reality.”

Christensen introduced the bill in an effort to allow the long-term lease to the V.I. government of 10 acres in Estate Catherineberg. The lot is part of a 55-acre parcel deeded to the V.I. National Park by its owner, Ethel May Bishop, who died in 2006.

For years, residents have lobbied to move the Julius E. Sprauve School out of Cruz Bay, which concerned citizens say has become too congested for the public school. A mid-island facility would offer kindergarten through 12th grade, allowing students in grades 9 through 12, who now must travel to St. Thomas for school, to be educated on their home island.

The delegate’s bill has moved quickly through Congress. H.R. 53 must now be approved by the U.S. Senate and the President of the United States.


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