Governor-elect Kenneth Mapp, center right in left photo, meets with supporters Camille Paris, center left, Janice Paris, right, and Frankie Johnson, left, during an afternoon cocktail hour at Waterfront Bistro on Saturday, November 22.
CRUZ BAY — A recall of the 2013 St. John property tax bills, a new St. John public school without a land swap with the federal government, a permit revocation and reconsideration of the size of the Coral Bay marina project – Governor-elect Kenneth E. Mapp is on top of St. John issues and his administration will be ready to act when it takes office in January.
While demurring on specific policy decisions, Governor-elect Mapp was succinct in outlining his plans for the smallest U.S. Virgin Island, starting with his campaign promise to redo the property revaluation that threatens native property owners.
“I am going to recall them (the tax bills),” Gov.-elect Mapp said of the 2013 property tax bills that shocked St. John taxpayers, especially native landowners. “I don’t believe they are accurate.”
It was impossible for the revaluation to be accurate “in the current economic climate,” he explained.
Private Site for New Island Public School
The governor-elect will also be taking a very different look at the stalled de Jongh Administtraton plans for a new St. John public school. A National Park Service-owned Centerline Road property in Catherineberg has been proposed as the site for the Kindergarten through Grade 12 school planned to replace the Julius E. Sprauve School in Cruz Bay and the shuttered Guy H. Benjamin School in Coral Bay.
“I don’t intend to spend a lot of time going back and forth with the federal government,” Gov.-elect Mapp told St. John Tradewinds in reference to the extended delay from protracted negotiations with the National Park Service to swap V.I. National Park property for V.I. government property the NPS covets.
“We have publicly said we will seek to acquire private land outside of the NPS,” Governor-elect Mapp said.
“The schools and the roads are part of our plan for moving the construction industry,” Mapp pointed out. “How do we move more dollars into the economy to jump start the economy?”
Review of Controversial Marina Permit
While the St. John CZM permit for the controversial Coral Bay marina has been signed by Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr. and is set to go before a V.I. Legislature committee on Dec. 17, the project still requires federal approvals. Gov.-elect Mapp said he wants to revisit the entire issue of the approval of the permit.
“I do believe the marina is too big and I don’t think the bay can handle it,” Gov.-elect Mapp said of the proposed 145-slip, mega-yacht marina. “I want to really go back and look at the whole process.”
“We will look at the whole issue,” Mapp said of his administration’s ability to have the Summer’s End Group (SEG) marina permit reconsidered. “The Governor has some revocative authority. I become the arbiter as Governor with the authority for potential revocation of permits.”
In his interview with St. John Tradewinds, a paramount issue for Gov.-elect Mapp was the state of the territory’s neediest families and the middle class.
“We really want to very early on to try to look at these families in need. No one in America should have to live in need,” Gov.-elect Mapp said at the outset of the interview. “And, the middle class is almost gone from the territory.”