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St Croix Growth Needs Some Thought


Dear Source:
There is much ado concerning the development of resorts and casinos on St Croix, and I am excited about the prospect of continued growth for that island. There seems to be a recent push to get the areas along Scenic Drive (Road 78) fixed so that it would be the gateway to that development. Where Scenic Drive certainly can use repairs, and where those repairs would serve to be the road leading to an extraordinary series of developments for the West End, there may be other ways to get the repairs accomplished.
Apparently, there are efforts afoot aimed at getting the government involved to quickly get Scenic Drive completed so that the development can begin. This is where I take some exception. If development is going to happen, and if the developers are serious about it, then why not ask THEM to repair Scenic Drive. For that matter, any development, anywhere in the Virgin Islands, that wants to take place will need a certain level of infrastructure simply because that development will impact the existing infrastructure. Issues such as crowded roads, parking, signage, neighbors rights and the beauty of the area are, or should be, causes for any developer. There is no reason why developers should not bear some of the costs of infrastructure when it is in their best interest to do so.
As I thought about that, I also thought about the area itself. Much of the land along the waterfront in the general area of Divi resort is former agriculture land. Very large tracts of land that has sat idle for years because, for one reason or another, no longer is used for farming. It seems a shame to me that the government may consider spending money for infrastructure for resorts and casinos, while allowing what could be a thriving agriculture industry to sit dormant. There are many other areas of St Croix, and St Thomas for that matter, which could be used for agriculture if only there was a will in government to do so. Wouldnt it be nice to enjoy local milk products or fresh vegetables grown right in our own back yard? What a delight it would be if locally grown flowers and herbs could adorn and refresh our homes as well as our palates. Why do we need to depend on gambling and entertainment alone for economic growth?
Economic growth is a good thing but the Virgin Islands needs a lot more to offer than just gambling and entertainment. We also have to consider that economic growth brings more people and with that, the need to import more goods to entertain them, including food. I would love to see true economic growth that includes our ability to not only attract tourism, but to be able to feed ourselves from locally grown crops and other agricultural products. There may be a time when we may have to be self-sufficient enough to withstand the possibility that other Caribbean destinations just may take away a great deal of the tourism base. What will we do then? Development is good as long as it is done thoughtfully, with long-range planning. I would hate to see dormant resorts because of low attendance, especially after we spent so much on infrastructure to attract them. This is why I think the large developers should bear a large share of the infrastructure costs. I firmly believe that we should invest in our own future by thinking about island-based and Virgin Islands-wide businesses that can keep the economy going if tourism diminishes. Agriculture and aquaculture are important considerations, along with off-shore banking, software development, eco-tourism and other such businesses that do not require a great deal of natural resources in order to exist. Instead of more buildings, why not more tractors?

Paul Devine
St. John

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