CORAL BAY — Moravian Church officials are hoping the developers of the St. John Marina, The Yacht Club at Summer’s End, proposed for Coral Bay Harbor will share in the bounty of the Lord — in the form of the public waters of the harbor.
“That’s exactly the position we’re taking,” Moravian Church official Sam Rymer told St. John Tradewinds July 26.
In a telephone interview in April, the church official said the Moravian property encompassing the entire north shore of the bay was a “better site” for a marina than any site on the south shore of Coral Bay where a stateside developer was proposing a marina at a then-undisclosed location.
Rick Barksdale, a principal of the development group proposing the alternate marina, Summer’s End Group, called Rymer’s remark “an unsubstantiated and unqualified statement” since the Summer’s End group has not publicly identified the site it is proposing for a marina development.
The Summer’s End group had filed initial plans for its project with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) in April, but details of the plan were not released by DPNR until the application was deemed complete in mid July.
Marina Stretches Across Harbor
Now that St. John Marina plans are public, the Moravians have found Summer’s End is coveting public harbor waters more than half way across the inner harbor for their marina and proposing to relocate moorings from the southern area of the harbor into waters abutting Moravian land to the north.
The first phase of the St. John Marina project, the 145-slip marina on almost 10 acres of the inner harbor will be built from what the developers themselves describe as “a very narrow sandy beach behind which are eroded soils” on the south shore of the harbor on the shoulder of Route 107 across from the Coccolobo commercial complex designated as Parcel 13 Remainder. (See related story.)
The church, as the major landowner in Coral Bay, claims rights to most of the north shore of Coral Bay Harbor and Moravian officials been in a development agreement for their waterfront property and offshore rights for years, according to Rymer.
In addition to the waterfront, the church’s landholdings on the shores of Coral Bay include the basketball court on church property between the Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School and the church-owned Coral Bay field, according to Rymer.
The church’s waterfront property extends to Fortsberg Hill, the representative of the Moravian Church added.
The Moravian’s inner harbor shoreline property extends behind the world famous Skinny Legs restaurant and has been used for boat launching and landing for decades. The Moravians recently proposed improvements to the small landing pier on the shoreline of their property behind the now-closed Guy H. Benjamin School.
The docks for the St. John Marina extend more than 800 feet from the south shore of Coral Bay more than halfway across the harbor.
The north end of the largest, 144-foot slips in the proposed marina end about 213 feet from the designated 100-foot channel to inner Coral Bay Harbor which itself is located about 300 feet from the customs house point.
Mooring Fields in Moravian Waters
The St. John Marina proposal leaves a 49-vessel mooring field in the inner bay on the north side of the channel between historic Fortsberg and the customs house and a small 21-vessel mooring field in the northern corner of the harbor – both mooring fields are offshore of Moravian Church property. The St. John Marina has propose12 moorings for its own use south of the marina with five public moorings.
Because of current on-going changes in the church’s hierarchy, including the appointment of a new superintendent for territorial ministries, the church did not have an immediate formal response to the St. John Marina plan, but they will be responding as part of the public review process, according to spokesperson Rymer.
The permit application for the Summer’s End project submitted in April has since been deemed complete and will be the subject of an August public hearing still to be scheduled.
Rymer said his comment that the Moravian property was a better site for a marina was “taken out of context,” according to Summer’s End principal Barksdale.
Marina Is “Component” of T-Rex Resort
A marina is only a “component” of T-Rex’s plans for a full-scale resort development on the Moravian Church property on the shore of Coral Bay, Barksdale stressed in a comment to Tradewinds in April.
The St. John Marina developers have secured the rights to a handful of upland parcels and a second phase of their project includes minor development of those properties. (See related story.)
Rymer introduced Rory Calhoun, the member in charge of the development group T-Rex, at a meeting of the St. John Rotary Club in April and T-Rex presented a check for $5,000 for the repair of the basketball court.
Since entering into their agreement with the Moravian Church, T-Rex has joined with a venture capital company named Sirius Development LLC as controlling partner, according to Calhoun.