Senator DeGazon calls for partnership between UVI and VIPA on dredging projects
As the Virgin Islands embarks on completing dredging projects for the territory, Sen. Allison DeGazon is asking VIPA to work with the University of the Virgin Islands to ensure the protection of the territory’s natural resources.
DeGazon sent a letter to VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe asking for the partnership following VIPA’s testimony during a Committee of the Whole hearing last Tuesday.
At the hearing, VIPA officials provided an explanation of their budget affairs and presented a case for the $23 million dredging of Charlotte Amalie harbor to allow St. Thomas to accommodate cruise ships of the Oasis and Quantum class.
Senators already ratified Gov. Albert Bryan’s approval of the Major Coastal Zone permit. The permit would allow the dredging of 255,118 yards of material from the existing berth at the West Indian turning basin and at the entrance channel into the Charlotte Amalie.
As a Finance committee member and chair of Committee of Economic Development, Regulations and Agriculture, DeGazon said she would like to assist the authority in attaining its goals and serving the public and suggested that the authority speak with UVI President Dr. David Hall about including UVI in the process.
“The purpose of this request is so that researchers and environmentalists who are specialists in the area of marine studies can be part of the process as it will require the movement of our precious coral and seagrass,” DeGazon said. “This will also allow students in the territory who are studying in this field to obtain valuable experience and research opportunities.”
Meanwhile on St. Croix, the $7-million project on St. Croix to dredge Gallows Bay and open a welcome center is moving slowly, but Dowe said the welcome center would be completed within two months. However, Dowe said the Port Authority wanted to complete the land side of the project first because the permitting process for dredging takes longer.