Although most of Estate Maho Bay is slated for preservation, thanks to efforts by the Friends of the V.I. National Park and the Trust for Public Land, the deal can’t move forward before the property is officially partitioned.
While the partitioning has delayed finalizing the preservation deal, the matter is scheduled to be settled in V.I. Superior Court on May 30.
The fate of the roughly 440-acre VINP in-holding, which stretches across five hilltops along the North Shore and includes the Maho Bay watershed, had been in limbo for years.
Left to 11 grandchildren of Harvey Monroe Marsh in undivided shares, the VINP purchased three shares of the land in the 1970s and TPL purchased one share in 2003.
The remaining seven heirs spent years in local courts attempting to subdivide the property. No progress was made until TPL officials secured purchase contracts from six of the seven Marsh heirs in September 2006.
Before the six shares of the land can be conveyed to the VINP, however, a V.I. Superior Court Judge will determine just which portions of the property will go to TPL and which will be retained by the lone hold-out heir.
“The judge is going to accept the recommendations of the referee and make his determinations on how the property should be partitioned on May 30,” said John Garrison, TPL’s field office director for south Florida and the Caribbean. “After that there will be a 30-day period for comments and the judge will decide if he likes the agreement or not.”
The undivided shares of Estate Maho Bay will be partitioned based on the total value of the land, added Garrison.
“What the judge will do is partition the land into one-eleventh of the total value,” he said. “The value of the land varies greatly depending on where in the property you’re talking about.”
Once the partition is complete, the deal between TPL and the Marsh heirs can be finalized. At that time, the non-profit land preservation organization will also donate the share they purchased in 2003.
The TPL-owned parcel on the far eastern edge of the beachfront will be conveyed to the VINP around the same time the rest of the land is transferred, Garrison added.
“More or less around the same time we’re going to convey everything over the VINP,” Garrison said.