Please allow me to comment in your publication with the following article:
Concerning the lack of cruise ship calls to St. Croix: Talk about pissing on your back and telling you it is rain! Wow, it is hard for me to believe the nonsense that comes from the West Indian Companys executive director and its members of the Board of Directors (WICO), others, and the gullibility of the Crucians. Two years ago I wrote, . . . "the main reason that Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines pulled out of St.Croix was due to the Government breaching the Crown Bay Contract and not the crime issue."
The following facts are available via old media articles, former and present government officials and records:
-Approximately, four years ago the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) advertised for a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop their Crown Bay facility into a two-berth mega cruise ship port with shore support facilities (the project).
-Carnival Cruise Lines joint ventured with their then rival Royal Caribbean and responded to the RFP and eventually entered into a contract with the VIPA to design, build, and pay for the project and in turn receive a 30-year lease.
-When Carnival was approximately one year into the work and in the permitting phase, WICO and the Main Street Merchants began to lobby Government House to kill the deal, citing as their reasons that the proposed 100,000 square feet of retail store space would somehow detract from the WICO dock, the over one million square foot Haven Site Shopping Complex, the Main St. Merchants' stores and they threw in the added congestion excuse – something they do when they do not want something.
-To help develop St. Croix's identity the VIPA was going to develop a cultural and heritance theme park village by Paul E. Joseph Stadium and other projects to improve St. Croix's image, all costing about $30 million. This money was available because Carnival was going to pay for the Crown Bay Project.
-Government House caved to the pressure from WICO and the Main Street Merchants and refused to sign the underwater lease agreement that was needed for the Crown Bay Project to move forward. This was done even though most of the VIPA Board members are also cabinet members of the Executive Branch of the Government.
-One month after Government House refused to grant Carnival the permit for the underwater lease, Carnival pulled their ships out of St. Croix, Royal Caribbean being a party to the Crown Bay Contract followed suit, and where the big lines go the smaller ones usually follow.
-The VIPA Board decided to move ahead with the Crown Bay Project anyway and because they dont need a lease from the very government that they are a part of, the $30 million that would have helped give St. Croix an identity ended up being spent on another St. Thomas cruise port! Additionally, the VIPA also had to pay Carnival approximately $1 million for the work that they had completed.
During this whole fiasco all the then St. Croix Senators, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce members and all the other St. Croix organizations sat quietly by and did nothing, while the WICO Board of Directors and St. Thomas Merchants put, via Government House, a spear through St. Croixs cruise ship tourism economy's heart and attempts to develop an identity!
Now, two years later the same WICO officials come to St. Croix, give a speech to the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, spread $55,000 around and tell the same Crucians that they are helping them! If that isnt pissing on your back and calling it rain I don't know what is.
The five-year operating agreement that the Government and Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) signed is not a binding agreement with the individual cruise lines. Even if it were, would Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the two biggest lines honor it when the Government breached the Crown Bay Contract; the breach orchestrated by WICO; and now WICO using the operating agreement to tell the Crucians it was the Government's fault! Wake up, Crucians.
Daniel F. Coughlin, P.E.
Member, American Society of Civil Engineers
West End, St. Croix
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