Home News Local news BEAL LASHES OUT AT S.E.A



After weeks of relative silence on the Beal Aerospace-V.I. government land exchange and two subsequent lawsuits seeking to block the deal, the company lashed out at local environmentalists Tuesday.
A Beal Aerospace Technologies Inc. press release called the St. Croix Environmental Association’s proposal that it be appointed trustee of 14.5 acres of public land at Great Pond Bay a "$250,000 joke." Beal’s comment follows SEA’s move last week to file its own lawsuit against the land swap.
A lawsuit filed by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and 19 other plaintiffs soon after the Legislature approved the agreement on Oct. 5 allowing Beal to trade acreage at Estate Whim and La Grange for the Great Pond property is pending in Territorial Court.
Both suits contend that neither the Governor nor the Legislature can violate the charitable trust set up by Frank Wiesner in 1974 when he donated land to the government at Great Pond Bay, also known as Camp Arawak. The deed calls for the land to be used perpetually for "the express and direct purpose of beach, park and other public recreational use."
SEA claims that because of the land exchange, the Government is no longer a suitable trustee. SEA officials have said they are looking into the possibilities of administering the trust and the site. Recently published news reports quoted SEA officials as saying the trust property could cost $250,000 to administer.
The Beal release said the "proposal is an obvious ruse."
"The group obviously doesn't have any experience in managing such a project," the release states. "Its record of negative campaigning, mudslinging and grandstanding make it the last choice to lead something positive in the community."
Wade Gates, Beal’s director of corporate affairs, called SEA an "anti-development organization" in an interview on WSTX Tuesday. The Beal release echoed those sentiments.
"Its small group of activists has never supported any project that offered new jobs or opportunities for the people of St. Croix," the release states. "What is the motive behind their sudden benevolence now?"
Hansen’s suit to determine whether Territorial Court Judge Alphonso Andrews will issue a permanent injunction to halt the land exchange agreement is currently being heard.
SEA’s suit claims, among other things, that the Government entered into a special agreement with Beal, thereby violating the Constitutional provision guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
Gates said the company was determined to continue the court fight, even if it ends up in the nation’s highest court.
"We are committed to see this through," he said. "Whatever the ultimate venue . . . we believe law is on our side."


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