Dec. 4, 2005 Gov. Charles W. Turnbull vetoed $7 million in financing for the University of the Virgin Islands Technology Park. He also vetoed Supreme Court location on St. Croix and a rezoning amendment.
Funding for the technology park loanwhich the Legislature has debated since 2004 was supposed to come from $10 million in bond proceeds allocated for the building of the Carifest cultural entertainment park on St. Thomas.
In a letter to Sen. Lorraine L. Berry, Turnbull said the Public Finance Authority recently approved a resolution to extend Carifest's financing and that money would not be available for the tech park. The expiration date for the extension is Dec. 31, and to use Carifest's money prior to that date would send the wrong message to investors, Turnbull added.
At a Senate session in mid-November, Sen. Usie R. Richards proposed using the Carifest funds for the tech park, saying Carifest has been discussed for "at least the past ten years," and has not yet been built. He also said there was no proof theme park organizers had identified any other form of financing for the park, so there should be no problem in using the $10 million.
In addition, since UVI's loan would only use $7 million out of the $10 million allocated for Carifest, an amendment provided by Sen. Liston Davis at the November session appropriated the remaining $3 million. The $3 million would go toward purchasing the Keith Massac Nursing Center, providing funding for the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, and jumpstarting repairs at Lionel Roberts Stadium.
In his transmittal letter, Turnbull said language in the bill made it seem as if the money to fund the three projects would be coming out of the $7 million for the tech parkleaving the remaining $3 million undesignated. "This would meet with the objection of bond holders and bond insurers," he said.
Turnbull wrote he is instead submitting a bill appropriating $1.5 million to Human Services to purchase the property for and to build the Keith Massac Nursing Center. While Turnbull did not say where the money would be coming from, he urged senators to approve the bill quickly to alleviate the overcrowding of the Queen Louise Nursing Home on St. Thomas.
He did not say whether he would be submitting bills to appropriate money for the Kimelman Cancer Institute and repairs to Lionel Roberts Stadium.
Turnbull also vetoed an amendment to the tech park bill appropriating $5.75 million for the construction of a Supreme Court building on St. Croix. Turnbull said St. Thomas should house the court, since the Revised Organic Act of 1954 designates Charlotte Amalie as the territory's capital. "Until that provision in the Organic Act is changed," he said, "this is the law of the land, and binding for the Government of the Virgin Islands."
In March, senators approved an amendment to the Omnibus Justice Act of 2005 that placed the court on St. Croix. Turnbull vetoed the amendment, but the Senate overrode his veto in May. However, Turnbull submitted a bill to the Senate for consideration in November, placing the court on St. Thomas, and calling for several appropriations to fund its start-up costs. (See "Governor's Bill to Fund High Court Likely to Meet with Opposition".)
In his transmittal letter last week, Turnbull urged senators to consider this bill, so construction and operation of the court can begin.
Turnbull also vetoed a request to rezone parcel numbers 3ABC and 3AAC Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John from W-I (Waterfront-Pleasure) to R-4 (Residential; Medium-Density). This would have allowed Bay Isle Associates, owner of Grande Bay Resort, to rezone a half-acre of land in Cruz Bay for 14 extra condominiums.
The rezoning has been a sore spot for some St. John residentsfor a myriad of reasonssince it was first introduced at a Committee of the Whole meeting in late August. (See "Residents Speak Against Rezoning Cruz Bay Condo Project".)
However, at a Senate meeting in mid-November, Sen. Roosevelt C. David, who proposed the rezoning, said St. Johnians feelings had changed, and that he had heard many express support for the measure.
Despite this, Turnbull wrote in his recent transmittal letter that the rezoning has caused a "ground-swell of opposition on St. John." In addition, he said the rezoning would increase stress to the current infrastructure, increase the noise pollution in the residential neighborhood, exacerbate St. John's parking problems, and have "unpleasant and unhealthy impacts" on surrounding residents.
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