The CZM Committee unanimously approved revised plans for a major improvement of the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack in a decision meeting on Thursday both at the University of the Virgin Islands Albert A. Sheen campus and via Zoom.
Previously, VIGL Operations, LLC proposed to reduce its original plan for the track. The proposal ran into much criticism from horse owners and officials. The proposed reduction of 1,200 seating gained the most criticism.
“I think that from our hearings the territory has benefited greatly from projects and applicants going back to the drawing board and bringing back projects that feel way more mutually beneficial not only to themselves but to the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This racetrack is an example of that. We continue to push our applicants to see that this is not only a financial issue, but socio and economic benefit for the Virgin Islands,” said Committee Member Kai Nielsen.
Presented and also in a letter sent to Director Marlon Hibbert at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources from CFO and Managing Partner Andrew Dubuque listed the following revisions:
- Total seating capacity increased to accommodate 3,200 patrons.
– A revision to the grandstand design to accommodate 1,400 seats.
– Two stadium-style covered bleacher seating areas added for an additional 1,800 seats.
- Demarcation of area for potential future seating expansion to accommodate up to an additional 2,700 patrons.
- Relocation of proposed quarantine barn to the east side of the racetrack, enclosed with USDA-compliant fencing.
- Demarcation of area for potential future barn expansion on the east side of the racetrack.
- Removal of party pavilion structures to accommodate the new bleacher seating area.
The full letter can be viewed on the CZM website here.
Nielsen asked about the clause in the agreement regarding increasing the seating by 2,700 and asked if that could be turned on within five years.
On behalf of VIGL, the General Manager of Racing Operations for VIGL Operations, LLC, James Williams, said, “I think that is to really demonstrate the capacity of the site to grow as horse racing grows here in the territory. We just wanted to demonstrate that the horsemen are very eager to build the industry here and we just wanted to confirm that there is nothing being proposed that will prevent this from growing in the future.”
“This is just us demonstrating there are no physical limits on the site in terms of being able to have big impacts,” said Williams.
Engineer Damian Cartwright affirmed what Williams said, “Driven by market demand and needs, if the market demand is there, then we have an area identified for us to expand the seating capacity when that comes online. It will be market driving.”
VIGL also held an open meeting on Wednesday prior to Thursday’s final CZM meeting, where anyone attending the meeting had the opportunity to view the changes made.
The committee allowed comments from the Flamboyant Horsemen Association just to ensure they were in agreeance with the changes. Elroy Bates Jr., president of the Flamboyant Park Horsemen Association, said, “Changing the galvanize in the stables. The roofs are leaking already. It’s going to be a problem figuring it out.”
Cartwright replied, “The reality is 100 percent of the roof sheeting is going to be replaced because it is the only way to warranty that investment.”
Bates accepted the response and affirmed the association’s approval of the plans.
The full major land permit modification can be seen here.