Owner Gave Public Route 204 Right of Way To Move Historic Road from Center of Estate



A small private sign on Route 204 says right of way is “ROAD IMPASSABLE BEYOND THIS POINT.”


ST. JOHN — The National Park Service closure of V.I. Route 204 on the public right of way from Centerline Road at Susannaberg to the North Shore Road at Peace Hill between Hawksnest and Denis Bays, was briefly a topic of conversation at the May 26 town meeting with officials of the Virgin Islands National Park.

Before the rare public session by park officials became a discussion between the two largest landowners on St. John — the V.I. National Park and heirs of the Marsh family — the unheralded NPS closure of one of the two roads connecting the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on Route 10, Centerline Road, with Route 20, North Shore Road in the center of the VINP almost became a hot-button issue.

The right of way was donated to the Virgin Islands by Neptune Richards, according to descendant Ronnie Jones, and was subsequently designated Route 204.  The gravel road passes in the shadow of the historic Susannaberg sugar mill overlooking the north shore of St. John and the V.I. National Park

The property for the road was donated to the people of the Virgin Islands so the public would not have to travel on the Susannaberg Estate Road through the family’s property, according to Jones, who did not comment on whether the property for the right of way revert to family if there is no longer a public road.

Two-vehicle Road Becomes Impassable
The level hard-packed dirt and gravel road is two-vehicles wide with concrete drainage swales for a substantial portion of its first half-mile of the right of way from Route 10 behind the Jones family farm stand — until it reaches the crest of the hillside and the recently-completed, architecturally-acclaimed modern home overlooking Hawsknest, Denis and Trunk Bays and much of the north shore that now appears to incorporate Route 204 into its parking area.

The government right of way for Route 204 below the multi-million modern mansion overlooking Denis Bay is marked by a hand-painted sign as “Impassable.”

On the North Shore Road, the NPS has installed a padlocked heavy chain across the entrance to the lower end of the unimproved road at Peace Hill.  The posted NPS sign says the road is closed to vehicles — although on closer inspection the chain is easily removed from the open hook on the post to allow access.