Caneel Bay Resort, VINP Reach Agreement Over Floor Construction at Historic Ruins

The required federal paperwork will be developed for work at the Caneel Bay plantation ruins, above, following the construction of a floor.

The proper paperwork will be developed following the construction of a floor in the historic sugar plantation ruins near Caneel Bay Resort’s Equator restaurant to expand the ruins’ dining capacity, and it’s probable the floor will not need to be removed.

V.I. National Park Acting Superintendent Martha Bogle and VINP Chief of Resource Management Rafe Boulon met with Caneel Bay Resort Manager Nikolay Hotze on Friday, May 11, after construction of the floor was nearly completed.

“We discussed several things with Nikolay,” said Bogle. “Rafe and I took a look at the floor, and VINP Archaeologist Ken Wild has taken a look at it. Nikolay is brand new and I’m brand new, so it was a good opportunity for us to talk about a number of things.”

Bogle began her approximately four month long stint as VINP acting superintendent last month, while Hotze has been on the job since January.

Floating Floor
The floor is not harming the ruins, explained Bogle.

“The floor is basically floating; it’s not built into the walls or anything like that,” she said. “We don’t have a concern with that. What we do have a concern with is compliance.”

Caneel Bay will be required to provide as-built architectural renderings of the floor, and Wild will conduct a study of the ruins, which is generally completed before any work is done at historic ruins.

“I have to develop a Section 106 statement, which describes the action you’re going to undertake on the historic structure,” said Wild. “Then it goes out for approval by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the option would be approved by the VINP superintendent. It’s a long process, but it’s there for some very good reasons, because you could go in there and apply the wrong concrete and the bricks could fall out.”

The compliance process began under former Caneel Managing Director Rik Blyth, but the project was dropped, explained Boulon.

“This was something we started quite a while ago with Rik Blyth, but then it got dropped so we didn’t go any further with it,” said Boulon. “Then I guess Caneel Bay didn’t fully understand that the compliance hadn’t been completed, so they put the floor in. At this point, we are trying to complete compliance.”

The floor will remain in place while the compliance process is underway, and the VINP regional historic architects and SHPO will have the final say regarding whether the floor should be torn down.

No Fine Will Be Issued
“We’ll go through the process with our regional office, as well as SHPO here in the V.I.,” said Boulon. “They’ll be the ones who give the final approval. If they say it’s got to come out, they’ll have to take it out.”

The construction of the floor did not appear to damage the historic structure, explained Boulon.

“They did a good job with it,” he said. “It looks to be fairly independent of the structure. Our archaeologist doesn’t have any concerns with it, but we have no way of knowing how the regional historic architects or SHPO will feel about it.”

Although protocol has been broken with compliance occurring after the construction of the floor, no fine will be issued to Caneel Bay Resort, according to Bogle.

“This is not the way we’d typically do it,” she said. “Compliance is generally done beforehand, not after the fact. We would never want to be in the practice of doing compliance afterwards.”