Open forum: Hurricane Wreckage Still Not Cleaned Up

Shoreline Inn Island Blues debris on St. John

Dear Source:

“Why has the Island Blues Building hurricane wreckage not been cleaned up by the people responsible?” is the question people in Coral Bay keep asking, as tourists pass by and we all work to help St. John recover. To find out, about six weeks ago, the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) sent a letter to the leaseholder of this land, Ms. Chaliese Summers, managing partner, Summer’s End Group LLC, the developer of the proposed huge marina in Coral Bay, requesting that they remove unsightly and unsafe hurricane debris from shoreline parcels under their control. The formal letter was sent after a rebuff and refusal to discuss the problem face to face when we met at inaugural activities – and I was told to “write a letter.”

As of March 5th, we received no response, which was not surprising, given the history with these developers over the last six years. The only recent action on site appears to be a scattering of some debris. Note when you read the letter below that CBCC offered to help too.

The Summers End Group’s apparent lack of financial resources also shows up in the fact that property taxes on some of the parcels of land leased by the developer have not been paid since they took control in 2014, assuming as would usually be the case, that they would be responsible. VI Government on-line property tax records through February show that over $37,000 in back taxes (plus interest and penalties) are owed on three parcels leased by the Summer’s End Group (unpaid taxes on 10-18, 10-19 and 10-41 Carolina for tax years 2014-2019). It makes us wonder if the local landowners are getting any current benefit for their land at all, as economic returns from their land have been held up for years by this ill-conceived marina development.

Summer’s End Group: Parcel 10-19 (photo taken March 2019)

Having taken many efforts to position themselves as caring and contributing and “well-heeled” local citizens, we now see the specter of unpaid taxes, ignored clean-up of a substantial commercial property – and thus no visible efforts help the local economy right now. How many more of us need to speak up to get them to clean this debris up for the community? Can the government, perhaps the Health department, take action to require the cleanup of this public nuisance?

Attached and below is the letter sent to Chaliese Summers six weeks ago via email and certified postal mail, for which there has been no response.

Sharon Coldren
President, Coral Bay Community Council

January 23, 2019 — Letter from the Coral Bay Community Council
Subject: Derelict Buildings on Coral Bay Shoreline

Dear Ms. Summers,

We understand that the Summer’s End Group, LLC is the leaseholder of property located on or near the shoreline along Route 107 in Coral Bay, St John: Parcel 10-19 Estate Carolina and other nearby parcels. Prior to the devastating hurricanes of 2017, this named parcel is where the establishments known as Island Blues and Shoreline Inn were located.

This parcel, 10-19 Estate Carolina, still has extensive unsafe and unsightly hurricane debris directly on the shoreline of Coral Bay Harbor, and near operating restaurants, homes and the general public – who have all personally struggled to make the effort to recover from the hurricanes of 2017. But the derelict wreckage of both Island Blues and Shoreline Inn has not been cleared since the devastation in September 2017, almost a year and a half ago.

While the owners of other commercial buildings, private homes and vacation properties have worked diligently to remediate storm damage and debris, these parcels under your control remain in much the same condition they were found in after Hurricane Irma. They are a blight on the Coral Bay landscape and a painful reminder to all who pass through Coral Bay of the storms of 2017.

Unlike the rest of us, you do not appear to have put your personal resources into removing this debris and eyesore. This hurts the recovery of the economy of Coral Bay and St. John — an impact that is felt directly in the pocketbooks of all the workers and owners in the local businesses right now.

Furthermore, the nonprofit organization website you created post-storm still uses a photo of this wreckage as a “poster child” for the destruction of the hurricane. The huge trees killed by the storm on your property were eventually removed by Public Works after the local outcry about their danger to traffic, even though the government said the trees were the private property owner’s responsibility to remove.

Many residents and Coral Bay business owners and vacation villa owners have pointed out – to the past governor and others – that they and their customers find this wreckage to be a major eyesore, and it is a significant impediment to the full recovery in Coral Bay. It is also apparent that this site is dangerous for any person who may enter it, since it appears that no efforts to secure it and reduce unsafe and hazardous conditions have been made by you.

As leaseholder of the properties, it is our understanding that you are responsible for clearing the storm wreckage and restoring the properties to a safe condition. The site is clearly a public nuisance, with graffiti painted on wrecked walls, exposed plumbing, and crumbling structures. It is directly on the main thoroughfare of Coral Bay and visible to all who pass by, whether by land or by water. It viscerally hurts to look at this wreckage and realize that no recovery effort has been made by the responsible parties.

We respectfully request that, as a matter of urgency, you remediate the conditions on your leased property and remove all storm wreckage that is publicly visible and that creates unsafe conditions. Failure to do this has created a public health hazard that is likely unlawful under the VI Code, Title 19 and other laws.

Since the peak season for tourism is now upon us, this is a matter of urgency to the economy.

Furthermore, we understand that you control the other adjacent properties listed below that remain in derelict, wrecked condition post storms.

Please let us know your plans by January 31st for clearing these parcels, so then we can communicate that information to our community members in Coral Bay, who constantly ask us “how can this wreckage be allowed to remain?”

If there is some way that our organization could be directly helpful in this removal, we are willing to discuss this with you.

Sharon Coldren
President, CBCC

Other parcels you control that also have debris concerns:
10-41 Carolina: The parcel where Cases by the Sea/Slim Man’s was located, that has scattered debris and a boarded-up building.

10-17 Carolina and 10-18 Carolina: The parcels that BCC used and presumably paid you rent for, that have mounds of dirt near shore, and scattered debris.