You can make a difference! MVP students are being taught both duty and self-importance. On going projects are chosen to prove that much like the planting of seeds, by coming up with ideas for community improvement, one might make a difference.

Recover the St. James Islands

Idea: Recover the St. James Islands: The short version is that we the residents of the US Virgin Islands should make a timely effort to research the possibility of the National Park System (NPS) taking over the ownership of the St. James Islands. Much like the examples of Hassel Island, Buck Island (STX) and the NPS lands on St. John, the St. James Islands should forever be preserved for the enjoyment and benefit of USVI residents and visitors alike.

Thoughts: The stigma of two of our beautiful Virgin Islands being owned and partially developed by a convicted merchant of pedophilia must be erased! The retrieval of the property's ownership from the estate of a deceased criminal and the placing of it into the hands of the US park system would be viewed by residents and news viewers around the world as a proper settlement for the embarrassing stain that was placed upon the people of the Virgin Islands.

The development of a first class (eco-friendly) resort on the partially developed island of Little St. James would bring about many opportunities for small business owners and the employment of many residents. The Government of the Virgin Islands would benefit from the taxes paid by the resort and its vendors/suppliers. An agreement to serve the residents and visitors (example: access to restaurants and watersports operations, etc.) should be included in the resort's long-term lease agreement.

Other than permits that are issued to concessionaires (campground operator, water sports operators, ferry services, etc.), there should be a limited amount of further development on the island of Great St. James. In the agreement with the NPS, the anchorages of Christmas Cove, the surrounding beaches and snorkeling areas, should always be accessible to boaters while under the management of the NPS.

The opening up of a large 'water recreation' destination for boaters would greatly help to keep US dollars in the coffers of the US Virgin Islands. The Government of the neighboring British Virgin Islands might feel the pressure of competition and would possibly realize that the easing of fishing and travel restrictions between the islands would be beneficial to the sister destinations.

The island of St. Thomas is rapidly becoming over-developed and is becoming less appealing (roadside trash and garbage bins, box stores, gas stations, heavy commercial traffic, etc.) to vacationers. The preservation of surrounding green space (examples: Hassel Island, St. John, Buck Island, etc.) has much to do with maintaining the beauty of our islands. Limiting the over-development of the St. James islands and placing them under the strict standards (waste, sewage, camping facilities, hiking trail maintenance, coral preservation, etc.) of the National Park Service will help to preserve the outlying views, while also serving as an attractive watersports destination for our local residents, hotel and cruiseship visitors.

Foresight: The economic stability of the US Virgin Islands depends much on the income provided by tourism, local taxes paid and Federal funding. We as a community must not be silent, allowing our tourism product to be further diminished by our history of a short-term vision. The safest way forward is to place the islands of Great St. James and Little St. James into the hands of the U.S. National Park Service which has a proven record of its ability to manage our nation's crown jewels. It also has the Federal funding that is needed to support this preservation effort.

Proposed is the first gathering of like-minded individuals. Their mission would be to explore the realistic possibilities of this effort. Future steps would be to form a legal entity under the guidance of individuals who have documented legal, financial, tourism and political expertise. The single purpose of a formed organization must be an unselfish and unified effort to preserve the St. James Islands. It's probably a now or never period of time to explore this matter while the estate is in the hands of the courts.