Jan. 31, 2006 – Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards told a crowd of over 100 people at the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday that residents had to get behind development projects if they wanted to see them happen.
He said the proposed project at Annaly Bay was "near and dear to his heart" and that "We have begun to pick away at this development letter by letter, call by call."
He was referring to a proposed development he announced in December that is to be located on the island's north shore, at Annaly Bay, just west of the Carambola Beach Resort.
The development would encompass more than 2,500 acres and be valued at more than $500 million at completion. It would include three different hotels, residential villages, estate homes and villa residences spread over 1,327 acres.(See "Developers Propose Major Resort for St. Croix").
The proposal has come under fire in recent letters to the editors of local publications. Richards said, "I have no reason to want this island destroyed," explaining that he had nothing against environmentalists.
He said that the developers, Throgmartin Company, were obligated to leave only 50 percent of its property undeveloped but was proposing 70 percent to remain natural open space.
He cited developments on St. John and St. Croix – Frenchman's Reef and Caneel Bay. He said they were once pristine property and they remain pristine property, but property that residents were now making money from.
He told the gathering, "The challenge you have is to find the balance between development and the environment."
He said Chamber members "who support business" were especially obligated to make their voices heard. He said he was "disturbed and perturbed" by all the negativity he was hearing about proposed development projects on St. Croix.
He said that the Throgmartin proposal might be the last. "Every time we deny a project, we send a message out to the world that we don't want development."
He added, "Sometimes we are our own worst enemy."
However, he struck a positive note saying, "We can do it. We can strike a balance."
After devoting most of his speech to the Annaly proposal, he talked about the proposal for Gallows Bay. (See "Port Authority Board OKs Gallows Bay Marina Project").
He said, "I see this as serving as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of Christiansted town."
He recalled times when he was young and Christiansted was busy. He said, "We have regressed." However, he added, "All these things can come together if we support them."
At the beginning of his speech Richards outlined his duties as lieutenant governor. He said the V.I. lieutenant governor had a much more encompassing role than lieutenant governors in most states.
Ben Rivera, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, at the beginning of the meeting, announced that the Chamber's campaign to get the Water and Power Authority to choose Renaissance as an alternative energy supplier had failed. He said he had learned that WAPA was choosing a wind-power company to supplement the energy provided to islanders. Although he said he was for wind energy, he thought Renaissance would have been a good short-term solution because wind energy might not be supplied within five years.
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