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Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid
Would-be Smugglers Cove Beach developer pulls out       

Wednesday, 07 May 2008 
After two years of planning and more than $1 million spent
in environmental studies, public meetings, and architectural
renderings, project managers withdrew from a $60 million
investment deal to develop Smugglers Cove. Instead,
government will now purchase the land in installments,
Minister of Education Andrew Fahie announced during the last
meeting of the House of Assembly. After the meeting, Mr.
Fahie — who is also the representative for district one
that includes Smugglers Cove — said he was pleased that
the government would buy back the land for the people, but
claimed not to know the reasons why the developer had pulled
out of the multi-million dollar deal.
The proposed project had been the subject of ongoing
protests from environmentalists and other community members.

On Monday Harold Lynn, the project developer, said the deal
was close to being signed during the former administration
but that developers decided to withdraw after waiting for
several months for a response from the Virgin Islands Party
government. 

“I had no choice but to not go through with the purchase.
… The government changed and didn’t seem to be
interested with us going with the project,” Mr. Lynn said
in an interview from his New York office. “We had signed
an agreement with the previous administration and we spent
almost two years and spent an enormous amount of money
meeting the environmental requirements.”

Last year, Mr. Lynn met with Premier Ralph O’Neal to
discuss the project, and sent him three letters. “He was
non-committal,” Mr. Lynn said about the premier. “He sat
there and listened and told me he would get back to me, but
he never did.”

Rosalie Adams, the premier’s permanent secretary,
acknowledged that the premier had received at least one of
the letters. “I had seen one and a response was drafted.
But in that letter, the developer had given an ultimatum to
the premier saying that if he had not received a response by
the end of January he would withdraw. I don’t think that
the premier would respond to an ultimatum,” Ms. Adams
said, adding that when she joined the premier’s office in
October 2007 all matters had been settled with the developer
except for the water supply. However, there were other
issues being discussed. “I think they were also asking for
additional land and permission to put in a dock, but that
particular issue didn’t have a favourable review on the
stakeholders residence views because they thought it would
deter them from getting to the beach,” Ms. Adams said.

The most substantial issue being discussed was the provision
of water to Villa Paradiso, Ms. Adams said, adding that
government would have continued to work with the developer,
but that the timing was not right.

In a letter to the government, Mr. Lynn said he would
withdraw from the project if he didn’t receive a response
by January’s end. But the budget was passed four months
later. “It was out of the budget cycle,” Ms. Adams said.
“We were hoping to get funds in the 2008 cycle. So [with]
the ultimatum given by the developer to give an answer by
the end of January, we were not able to respond because we
were not able to have any money budgeted. That’s were it
ended. … We would not have had a problem to continue to
work with Mr. Lynn, but the timing was the problem,” she
said.

According to Ms. Adams, the premier’s office is committed
to work with the ministry of communications and works to
provide the western side of Tortola, including Smugglers,
with water lines.  "We see it as one of the prime areas
where we have homes, the Long Bay Hotel and other areas, and
we recognize that they need a steady water supply.”

Asked if the government planned to develop Smugglers, Ms.
Adams said “the government would normally purchase the
land and then develop a plan of action for the area. Whether
that will be done is up in the air.” 

Read the full story in the May 8, 2008 issue of The BVI
Beacon

See also SAVE SMUGGLERS COVE

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