Friends Commissions St. John Economic Study
It is not uncommon to hear a recollection of what life on St. John used to be like among residents and longtime visitors. Likewise, common are conversations expressing creative ideas about what St. John needs. In between are anecdotal accounts of what life is like today. In an effort to better understand the economic and social impact of the park, Friends commissioned a study: Economic Profile of St. John, US Virgin Islands, of current published information that revealed a number of data gaps and some startling statistics.
For example, “In 2017, only 38 homes were sold, with an average price of $891,763, while in 2021, a total of 117 homes were sold with an average price of $1,757,642. The median household income on St. John was $50,352 in 2020, with 14 percent of families on St. John reporting incomes below the poverty line.”
In short, the perception that St. John is an expensive place to live and work is a reality. This is typical of communities in and around National Parks. As a result, across the nation Friends groups like ours are asking deep questions about natural resource management and what it means to preserve cultural heritage, one of the pillars of the National Park Service’s mission.
There may be no right answers, but without real data we cannot design just and equitable solutions. I encourage you to read this report and stick with us as we work with our park to meet its mission in perpetuity. In the coming year we aim to commission additional studies and develop plans that examine issues like visitation and further address the economic and social impact of the park on St. John, and the broader VI community.