March 15, 2006 — Visitors to Lindqvist Beach on St. Thomas are being greeted by a private security officer and a truck blocking access to the beach road. An attorney representing the developer who purchased the Smith Bay property that includes Lindqvist Beach says the guard was posted by the development company, VI Investments.
Alan Smith, an attorney representing VI Investments, says the guard is there to protect the interest of the private property owner.
"The security guard is there to advise individuals that they are trespassing and also to prevent vehicular access," Smith said Wednesday.
He added, however, that visitors who want to continue on foot towards the beach are not being prevented from doing so. "We're not preventing anyone from going down to the beach. We're simply advising them that by doing so, they are trespassers," he said.
However, a press release from Smith released Wednesday afternoon emphatically states, "there is NO [emphasis original] public right of way or easement across VI Investments LLC's property in Estate Smith Bay. Therefore, neither vehicle nor pedestrian access will be granted." The release concludes that VI Investments "will, if necessary pursue every legal avenue including reporting trespassers" to V.I. Police.
Smith said VI Investments moved to restrict access to Lindqvist after complaining to government officials that the beach was being marred by litter and other debris and that no efforts were being made to keep it clean. Smith said the developer tried to bring the matter to the attention of public officials but never received a reply.
For several generations, St. Thomians have been regular visitors to the private East End beach for family gatherings and recreation. But in the late 1990's the beach — which was owned by a local family — was purchased by V.I. Investments.
At the urging of some public officials the administration of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull tried to acquire the beach for public use through eminent domain, using an appropriation from the Legislature and funds procured by the Public Finance Authority. However, Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar threw out the acquisition, citing a flaw in the property appraisal process used to complete the deal.
As late as January, during his annual State of the Territory address, Gov. Turnbull reiterated his administration's intention to complete the acquisition.
"Yes, we were going to pursue it," said Government House spokesman James O'Bryan Jr. on Wednesday. He said Attorney General Kerry Drue is looking into appealing the recent ruling by Hollar that voided the deal.
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