CBCC Concerned with Transfer of Coral Bay Property to DPW

Dear Gov. Charles Turnbull,

The Coral Bay Community Council is a 200-member nonprofit organization concerned with the appropriate planning and development of Coral Bay. Our Board of Directors has requested that I write to you about Public Works’ request to have the property at 6-4 Estate Carolina, St. John, transferred to PW, which is now under the control of House Parks and Recreation. We have a number of concerns that we request be publicly addressed prior to transferring this property. Based on the information currently available, we request that the property not be transferred at this time.
CBCC has held discussions with Commissioner Hobson about the potential of using this site for recreation facilities and even has provided preliminary drawings of potential recreational uses.

Choosing land for building a major Public Works facility (a VITRAN bus depot and a Public Works Operation Center) should not simply be an opportunistic choice of the only available publicly-owned parcel. We suggest that sites should be deliberately selected as part of a larger land use and infrastructure public planning process for St. John and Coral Bay. Land is too scarce and valuable on St. John to be arbitrarily claimed for any activity, without being placed in the context of a larger plan for the future.

To date, in the current de facto planning, industrial-type uses have intentionally been kept clustered in the specific area in the middle of the island, which includes the current PW site. Moving away from this upland area, and establishing noisy, potentially polluting uses in the coastal area may establish a new precedent that is not likely to be in St. John’s long-term best interest.

Many homes directly overlook the proposed site. These residents will be subject to noise and fumes pollution, particularly in the predawn hours of starting bus routes for the day. Due to the layout of the whole bow-shaped valley and surrounding hills, noise carries and amplifies very strongly. Residents are highly sensitive to noise.

This parcel is zoned P. Public Works’ contemplated uses are not specifically within the permitted uses of P-zoned property. Long-time residents of Coral Bay have always thought of this parcel as a future recreational site.

Another concern is what structures can be cost-effectively built on illegally filled land that may be over 30 feet deep with loose fill? This property is within the first tier of the Coastal Zone, within 1,000 feet of the ocean, and has been used by PW and private haulers for fill dumping purposes for years. The fill has blocked a gut channel and allows silt and debris to enter another gut. Today there is level land built up by this fill, resulting in a 30-foot-plus high cliff — and a beautiful water view. Is it suitable for building a large structure for heavy buses and equipment? Would it require expensive construction piers and fail-safe oil and fuel pollution controls, due to the future settling of the fill land? What is the best way to fix up this land?

Please do not transfer this property away from Housing, Parks and Recreation now. There should be public consultation and an appropriate long-term infrastructure planning review. To begin this process, we have invited Commissioner George Phillips to meet with the community on October 23.

Thank you for your consideration.

For the CBCC board,
Sharon Coldren