Land's end

Beachgoers to Mermaid’s Chair will have an easier time getting there with shuttle service three times daily.

The governing board of the Preserve at Botany Bay on St. Thomas has started offering a shuttle service to local residents, allowing them to bypass an arduous, mile-long trek to access the beach.

Senate Majority Leader Marvin Blyden, who helped spearhead the change in Botany Bay’s visitor policy, said the shuttle service represents a “major victory” for the people of the Virgin Islands, particularly those who are elderly or disabled.

“I am pleased that the board has decided to do the right thing and I hope they continue to in the future,” he said. “We cannot allow the interests of villa guests and tourists to overshadow the importance of beach access for our local people. There are still many changes to be made and discussions to be had, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Previously, no shuttle was available to the public at Botany Bay and vehicles were not permitted to enter the property. Blyden said this was in violation of the Preserve’s Coastal Zone permit, which stipulates that visitors must have unrestricted access to Botany Bay, Sandy Bay and Mermaid’s Chair.

On Sept. 12, Blyden, along with some constituents, went directly to the front gate to demand access by car. After being denied access, Blyden discussed his concerns regarding the visitor policy and the stipulations of the CZM permit with the property owner, who insisted he was following orders given to him by the Preserve’s governing board.

The denial of access constituted a break of V.I. law and as such, Blyden filed a police report about the incident, according to a statement from his office. “I’m happy that the board came around and decided to do the right thing for the people of the territory,” Blyden said.

The shuttle service now runs three times daily, at 8:30 a.m., noon and 3:30 p.m.

Blyden invited the community to email his office at mblyden@legvi.org or to leave messages at his office at 340-693-3567 for questions or concerns regarding his efforts. The public can also send a message to his Facebook page for more information.

— Contact A.J. Rao at 340-714-9104 or email ajrao@dailynews.vi.