Most Residents Express Opposition to Convenience Center in Coral Bay

It doesn’t look like V.I. Waste Management Authority will construct a convenience center on Parcel 6-4 in Coral Bay.

Most of the 30 residents who attended a Coral Bay Community Council planning discussion series meeting on Monday night, May 9, at Guy Benjamin School were against the idea.

The suggestion arose after residents at a past planning series meeting expressed concerns about the current location of the dumpsters in the Coral Bay area.

Residents cited aesthetics, public safety and negative impacts on the sensitive mangroves as reasons why the main dumpsters needed to be relocated.

CBCC president Sharon Coldren brought those concerns to the V.I. Senate’s Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection last month.

After hearing Coldren’s testimony on the issue, Environmental Protection Committee Chairperson Senator Louis Hill asked her to see if the community was in favor of moving the dumpsters to a parcel of unused government-owned land in the area.

In addition to relocating the dumpsters, officials also raised the idea of constructing a “convenience center” on the land, which would include several dumpsters and recycling bins in a roofed and fenced structure. Mario Leonard of the V.I. Waste Management Authority tried to share a power point presentation at the meeting, explaining what the centers are and how they operate.

Before Leonard was able to give his presentation, however, several members of the audience voiced strong opposition to the idea. After regaining control of the meeting, which deteriorated into name calling and mud slinging several times throughout the evening, Coldren was able to allow Leonard to complete his presentation.

Parcel 6-4 Carolina is a five-acre piece of land which was donated to the V.I. Government in the 1960s. The land is located in a residential area just off Centerline Road not far from the Coral Bay triangle.

While the land was originally donated to the government with the intent of supplying space for a recreational facility, the parcel is not deed-restricted, according to Coldren.

“While a number of people in the community are under the impression that this government owned land is ‘deed-restricted’ to be used for parks and recreation, a review of the deed and the legislation for the government purchasing the property in the 1960s shows that there are no restrictions on the Government’s use,” Coldren previously told Tradewinds.

Since it was donated to the government, the land has only been used by Department of Public as a site to dump fill from landslides. Several abandoned vehicles have also appeared on the site recently.

The main Coral Bay valley gut also cuts across a portion of the land and CBCC — as part of its watershed management project — is overseeing construction of a berm to filter sediment from the gut before it flows across the property.

The VIWMA convenience center was one idea for use of the land, albeit a highly unpopular idea, according to most residents at last week’s CBCC meeting.
“You want to put a dump in my mother’s face,” said Wilma Marsh Monsanto. “There are other ways to use this area. Don’t put a dump right in front of my nose.”

“I have land adjacent to this parcel,” said Lorelei Monsanto. “How will this affect my property value.”

“I live right above this land and each morning I wake up and have my coffee and look out to the ocean,” said another resident who lives in the area. “Now you want me to look down on this.”

Other residents at the meeting thought the convenience center was a good concept, but should be constructed in the Cruz Bay area instead of Coral Bay.

“It seems this type of thing would be better near to the densely populated side of the island as opposed to an area removed from that dense population,” said George Courlas. “The rural end of the island is Coral Bay. It seems more appropriate to have this in the Cruz Bay area.”

Still other residents were doubtful that the St. John Department of Public Works could keep up with maintenance of a convenience center.

“This is viable and important for a community, but there is skepticism if our government can or will be able to handle this,” said Lori Francis.

Most residents at the meeting agreed on two things — parcel 6-4 is not the ideal location for a convenience center and the Coral Bay dumpsters need to be relocated.

“The present place of the dumpsters is unacceptable,” said Barry Devine. “They should have been moved a long time ago. No one is saying this is the right site for them.”

“We really need to look into it,” Devine said. “We all say, ‘Not In My Back Yard,’ but we will all need to compromise. We need a transfer station out here and we all need to think about where we would like to see it and what we would like to see on parcel 6-4.”

This week, CBCC is hosting another planning session series meeting to discuss the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s proposal to build a reverse osmosis facility in the Fortsberg area of Coral Bay and a stand pipe and water storage facility on Parcel 6-4.

Amy Roberts of Springline Architects and Amy Dempsey of Bioimpacts are expected to attend the Monday night, May 16, meeting at Guy Benjamin School at 6 p.m. For more information call CBCC at 776-2099.