A group of more than 20 St. John residents took advantage of the gathering of government officials at the opening ceremony of the Enighed Pond Marine Facility to voice their opinions regarding various topics, from schools to development.
The protesters, who were barred from demonstrating at the facility because they had not obtained a V.I. Port Authority permit, stood alongside the road nearby during the ceremony.
The group held signs with messages such as Send us a planner, No more massive condos and Pave paradise, wheres the parking lot?
Were directing the protest at the governor, and anyone who will listen, said one protester.
Several officials acknowledged the protesters during their speeches.
Most people on the side of the road are white, while most here under the tent are black, said St. John Administrator Julien Harley. This tells that Im not doing too good of a job, because there is a big division.
Planner Is Needed
Senator-at-Large Craig Bars-hinger spoke at length on the necessity of a planner for the island of St. John.
St. John must have a planner to take on our crushing level of growth, Sen. Barshinger said. We have to resist the temptation to use St. John as a money-making entity only. We love St. John, and we want it to stay culturally and environmentally similar to what it is today.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards also acknowledged the protesters.
We have become a people that resist change, said Lt. Gov. Richards in his speech. I agree with the protesters that change should come about as a result of planning.
I ask that the community open its arms to controlled change; lets look forward to great and better things, added Richards. I believe that development should be controlled, he said. I empathize with them. People who live here should enjoy this beautiful island.
The protesters were happy to be recognized by government officials at the ceremony.
I certainly hope we are being heard, said Toni Leopold. The officials certainly seem to be receptive, especially Craig Barshinger. Hes been amazing.