The final parcel of land in 225 acre Estate Maho Bay, which included the popular beach area was sold to National Park Service last week. Photo by Steve Simonsen
The largest single addition to V.I. National Park since its inception in 1956 was completed last week when Trust for Public Land (TPL) sold the final 74 acres of the 225-acre Estate Maho Bay to the National Park Service.
TPL announced the news on Wednesday morning, December 18, in a prepared statement. The national non-profit organization sold those remaining 74 acres of Estate Maho Bay to NPS for $2.5 million, with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Last week’s sale was the final in a series of sales dating back to 2009 and encompassing all of pristine Maho Bay beach as well as the hillside bordering King Hill Road. Several parcels of the 225 acres, however, were set aside for the heirs of the family who originally owned the property, explained TPL project manager for USVI, John Garrison.
“These 74 acres comprise the final piece of land of the 225 acres and we just closed on last Monday,” Garrison said on Wednesday, December 19. “We feel really good about this project and the National Park Service is thrilled. Hopefully now the people of St. John will be able to enjoy that beach for years in the future.”
This last 74 acre parcel is the majority of the land east of King Hill Road near the Maho Bay parking lot leading up the hill to Centerline Road, explained Garrison, who is the former executive director of Friends of VINP.
“The land includes everything on the hillside except a few lots that were set aside for each heir of the family,” Garrison said. “The area being built on right now is one of those pieces. We still hope to acquire those lots over time, depending on money; it’s all about money.”
Last week’s TPL press release quoted the organization’s president and CEO Will Rogers, as well as Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, VINP Superintendent Brion FitzGerald and local author Gerald Singer.
“The beach and hillside at Maho may well be paradise, and can now be enjoyed by everyone who comes to this wonderful American park,” The Trust for Public Land President Will Rogers was quoted in the release.
“This is one of the best beaches on St. John and is a significant piece of the island’s natural and cultural history,” FitzGerald said in the prepared statement. “It is wonderful that it will be available for park visitors.”
“I am glad that this very beautiful beach and the surrounding natural resources will be preserved for Virgin Islanders and visitors alike,” Christensen was quoted in TPL’s prepared statement.
“This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean,” Singer said in last week’s TPL release. “I’m extremely happy to learn the delicate environmental balance of the lush Maho Bay valley and access to the beautiful beach and the calm, shallow bay with its abundant marine life will remain undisturbed by private development.”
For more information about TPL, check out the group’s website at tpl.org.