If you are reading this newsletter you experienced the destruction of Hurricane Irma first hand, have friends or loved ones on St John, or visit regularly to enjoy the pristine beaches inside the National Park. Similar to the rest of St. John, visitor services at both Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay were very badly damaged and are currently closed. Many of the trees on the beach blew over, the archeology lab was destroyed and all of the cottages are in ruins. All is not lost, however. Nature has an amazing way of healing itself and the beaches remain as beautiful as ever. Downed trees and debris can be removed and facilities can be rebuilt. What is required now is will, hard work and financing.
As the concessioner with the right to operate at Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay for the next 15 years, our hope is to rebuild and be open for business again in the near future. What “near future” means is still under consideration and negotiation with the Park Service and must also be tempered with the realities of reconstruction on St John. First, the north shore must be cleaned up and basic infrastructure restored such as water, power and wastewater. Only then can visitor
services be rebuilt and improved. Our company has offered to help the Park Service with clean up and infrastructure repair using local labor in the hope of putting many of our previous 50+ employees back to work. Because this work is outside the scope of our existing contract, we must
wait for approval from the Park Service before proceeding.
I have been heartened by the response of regular visitors to Cinnamon Bay and their generosity to volunteer on St John. Over 500 skilled volunteers have signed up on our website to help clean up and restore the Park as long as we provide accommodations! It’s really tremendous.
Sadly, employment and economic recovery on St. John will suffer until there is real and meaningful action to reopen Virgin Islands National Park. The Park Service has a unique ability right now to very positively or negatively impact the citizens of St John depending on how quickly and effectively the agency can act.
You can help by:
1. Emailing Superintendent Lavasseur’s office to let the Park Service know you want local jobs and park restoration prioritized. https://www.nps.gov/viis/contacts.htm
2. Emailing Congresswoman Plaskett’s office to let the Feds know that you want local jobs and park restoration prioritized. https://plaskett.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/
3. Donate to the Friend of VINP earmarking your donations for your preferred project.
4. Sign up to volunteer as your schedule permits.
CEO, Cinnamon Bay Resort & Campground