National Park Service seeks public input on Caneel Bay redevelopment
By SARA KIRKPATRICK Daily News January 19, 2022
The public can now provide input on an initial set of concepts released by the National Park Service that may be used to guide the redevelopment of Caneel Bay.
The Caneel Bay Retained Use Estate or RUE expires on Sept. 30, 2023, but the Park Service announced in November the redevelopment plans for which it is requesting the community’s engagement.
Park Superintendent Nigel Fields said that four alternatives for redevelopment were proposed based on two public listening sessions held by the National Park Service in April and May.
The public was invited to answer four open questions on their personal connection to Caneel Bay, their thoughts on what was important to preserve and protect it, challenges with access and operations of Caneel Bay and ways to improve operations in the future.
“We were positively overwhelmed by the response we got, locally and nationally, so we are taking this input incredibly seriously,” Fields told The Daily News on Tuesday
Fields explained that the key themes that emerged from the public sessions included cultural significance of the land, personal connections, improved access and the importance of building sustainably.
“These four options are a reflection back on what we heard,” he said.
In a statement released Tuesday, the NPS announced the four preliminary redevelopment options it seeks public comment on:
• Alternative A: The Park Service’s preliminary proposed action balances enhanced public access, recreational opportunities, resource protection and park operational efficiency, while re-establishing a world-class overnight experience at a luxury resort. Additionally, the concept calls for a mid-range overnight experience at Hawksnest Beach separate from the resort, and the NPS would provide space for an organization to design, fund, construct, and operate a community destination, such as an amphitheater, museum or cultural center.
• Alternative B: A similar management approach to Alternative A, except the resort area is expanded and a mid-range overnight experience and public access at Hawksnest Beach is removed.
• Alternative C: Includes all resort zone elements identified in Alternative A, and the resort zone is similar to that of the historic boundaries of the Caneel Bay RUE. No visitor services would be provided at the site for non-resort guests, and the NPS would not provide a community space at the Caneel Bay area.
• No-Action Alternative: Assumes sole management by the Park Service upon expiration of the RUE in 2023. The Park Service would not issue any permit, lease or concession contract. The service would minimally restore the site to allow for safe access by visitors through existing roads and trails, including safe access to beaches.
Fields encourages residents, who are available to attend a virtual public meeting scheduled next month, to provide feedback. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Feb. 8.
“We will share back our next level of refinement, based on this feedback, by the end of summer or early fall, so we can again reflect back what we heard,” Fields said. “This is a community participatory process and the public will be engaged with every step.”
The public comment period will be open until Feb. 17. Written comments can be submitted by visiting go.nps.gov/1vippd or by mail at:
Caneel Bay Redevelopment and Management Plan
C/O Superintendent Nigel Fields
1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, V.I. 00830
Additional information about the proposed redevelopment options can be found at go.nps.gov/1vippd.
Information on the proposed options and plans and the February 8, 2022 VINP webinar is available here.