April 6, 2005 — The fate of the Ann E. Abramson Pier in Frederiksted, St. Croix, will be decided when the Coastal Zone Management committee meets Thursday to make a decision on the proposed dredging. The meeting, originally scheduled for March 17, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Curriculum Center in Kingshill. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines requested the dredging in November 2004 so large ships can dock in Frederiksted safely.
In December, the Virgin Islands Port Authority Governing Board approved a resolution to seek out requests for proposals for the dredging. (See "VIPA Approves Dredging Projects"). In January, VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin told board members he is waiting for the permit to dredge to be approved by CZM. (See "Authority Dredging Project Delayed by Complications").
The project, which would remove sand drift deposits off the northern part of the pier, has been awarded to VI Cement and Building Products at a cost of $1.2 million.
St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) Executive Director Megan Schoenfelt said Wednesday, "I am disappointed how the process unfolded. We feel strongly that the VIPA information was incomplete." Schoenfelt wants VIPA to conduct studies on the affect the dredging will have on the beaches, the coral reef and marine life. She also wants to know what will guarantee the return of ships to Frederiksted after the dredging is completed. "We know a pier is for ships, but there have to be environmental considerations." Schoenfelt has resigned herself to the possibility that the committee will approve the permit to dredge. "It seems that getting dredging done in a hurry has won out," she said.
Sen. Neville James, chairman of the Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee, also commented on the proposed dredging Wednesday. "I am not an economist. I am not an environmentalist, I am a concerned resident," James said. "We have to protect our environment but we also have to protect our economy. The cruise ship industry has started to engage us again to bring ships into Frederiksted. This dredging must take place. If the cruise ships say we have to dredge, well, there are times when minor sacrifices must be done for major good."
Sam Baptiste, Team St. Croix president, said Wednesday that the organizations that make up Team St. Croix support the dredging. "That is our public position," he said. Baptiste will attend the CZM meeting in support of the dredging.
The meeting is open to the public. For more information call Coastal Zone Management at 773-1082.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.