The idyllic view from the Coccoloba Shops in Coral Bay, above and below, will change with the marina development.
St. John may be getting its first full-fledged marina on the south shore of Coral Bay Harbor some day, but it will not have happened overnight and it will take a lot more planning, according to one of the principals of the group behind the project.
A four-month old, $1.27 million federal grant for the construction of the first St. John marina was “announced” January 9, but the news of the grant had already been on the island’s coconut telegraph since August 2013.
The “St. John Marina; Yacht Club at Summer’s End, LLC,” has received a $1,273,689 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a marina in Coral Bay, according to an announcement by U.S.V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen January 9.
“The Government of the Virgin Islands’ Planning and Natural Resources Division will partner with private investment groups to establish the St. John Marina on the Island of St. John, in the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands,” FWS actually announced in a press release August 13, 2013.
“This new facility — the first marina on the picturesque Caribbean island of St. John — will provide 96 slips and a boating activity center for eligible transient boaters. Other essential amenities include power and water for eligible traveling boaters,” the FWS announced.
Federal Matching Grant
The federal grant is a matching grant, Cruz Bay resident Rick Barksdale, one member of the development group, was quick to point out.
“It’s a matching grant,” Barksdale said. “They (FWS) are putting up $1.27 million and we have to come up with $1.4 million.”
“In Area of ” Coccoloba
The proposed marina will be located on the south shore of Coral Bay “in the area of” the Coccoloba commercial complex, Barksdale confirmed to Tradewinds.
The principals of the LLC are two long-time St. John residents, partners Barksdale and Chaliese Summers, who have been active in community environmental and planning efforts for years while developing the plans for the marina.
“What we’ve been doing for the past several years has been working with the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and V.I. Coastal Zone Management (CZM) to develop a project that is sustainable in that it also takes into consideration the environment, economy and culture of the area,” Barksdale told Tradewinds.
“We are moving towards permitting. I would have liked to have had all this happen about two years ago,” he added.
“Generational St. Johnians”
Barksdale, who with Summers has been working with community groups including the Coral Bay Community Council for years, was quick to note that native St. Johnians are an integral part of the project.
“There are generational St. Johnians involved in this project,” said Barksdale, a Louisiana native who settled on St. John with Summers almost seven years ago. “We’re not some big bad developer. We were brought into the project. The idea is the inspiration of native St. Johnians who are an integral part of the project.”
One of Seven Grants in U.S.
The grant to St. John Marina was one of seven awarded by USFWS and the Virgin Islands was the only territory to be among the recipients for projects to support recreational boating through the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Tier II program, according to Del. Christensen.
“Public-private collaboration is always the best way to bring sustainable economic development to our community,” Congresswoman Christensen said. “I commend the St. John Marina, Summer’s End and DPNR for their vision for this project.”