I would like to give thanks to the management and staff of the Magens Bay Authority who have maintained and enhanced so well their beach park for almost 75 years. Except for the University of the Virgin Islands campus, no other stretch of public property is as well maintained.
I personally have enjoyed Magens Bay Beach park since 1951, just a few years after its creation, and for the last 20 years, swimming at Magens has become a daily therapeutic routine, interrupted only by hurricanes.
Over the years, I have also enjoyed many concerts, fundraisers, family picnics, as well as birthday, wedding and anniversary parties under the sheds. I appreciate the daily cleaning, painting, repairing, mowing and trimming of the grounds and facilities. I am especially appreciative of the Herculean effort made to remove debris, replant and rebuild — done in a timely manner after Marilyn and Irmaria. Most of all, I appreciate the preservation of the natural beauty of Magens beach.
Magens beach is a unique island treasure and top attraction because of its protected calm waters, its long sandy shore and its beautiful fauna and flora, which are the richest of all the St. Thomas beaches. Magens beach is enjoyed by the tourists and all the segments of our community — rich and poor, adults and children, all colors and ethnicities. They come to walk, to jog, to swim, to relax, to sunbathe, to enjoy family time and to celebrate special occasions. All this is made possible by the dedicated staff and a board, which meets as a whole monthly, and more frequently for committee meetings. Board members are paid just $75 per monthly meeting and the Authority is financially self-sufficient since the salaries of the staff and the cost of maintenance are covered by the collected low fees.
In the midst of this well-managed success, here comes the Senate wanting to manage all public institutions, authorities and semi-autonomous agencies, when it is unable to manage itself. The Senate wishes to have a say in the appointment of Magens Bay Authority Board members and to shorten their term to only two years. This is a brazen attempt to politicize the Magens Bay Authority in clear violation of Mr. Fairchild’s conditions in gifting the park. The Senate wishes to set their own qualifications for board members, when the board already maintains high standards for itself and is in a superior position to assess what experience and education are needed when replacing a particular outgoing board member.
The board members are all college-educated with degrees and experience in important and relevant fields such as law, management, marketing, tourism and horticulture. By contrast, the Senate has no educational standards for itself. How qualified are the senators when many of their bills have been vetoed for violating the Constitution, the separation of powers, private property rights, English grammar, etc? The senators wish to tell the Magens Bay Authority how to increase their revenues from the tourists, when they are unable to balance the territory’s budget without conjuring phantom revenues and negotiating expensive loans.
Many corruption and theft cases have been uncovered in the Senate over the last 75 years, while there were none in the Magens Bay Authority. Did the senators wish to compete with Magens beach by creating an artificial temporary beach of their own by dumping and wasting $500,000 worth of sand on the rocks next to their building? Yet, they claim to be entitled each to an $85,000 salary, with obscene fringe benefits and an office slush fund of $1 million. Finally, the Senate, under the guise of a need for “cultural” foods, wants to cheapen Magens beach by allowing hawkers and street vendors in the park, as is being done at crime-riddled, raped, honky-tonk Coki beach.
St. Thomas has many good restaurants serving “cultural” food: The Diamond Barrel, Petite Pump Room, Victor’s Hideout, Arians, The Coal Pot, The Seaside Inn, Walker’s by the Sea among others. There is no need for the Magens Beach Café to serve “cultural” food when the greatest demand is for pizzas, hamburgers and hot dogs. When residents have their parties at Magens beach, they generally bring their own “cultural” food and drinks with them.
Why can’t Magens Bay remain unique and feature its beautiful spacious beach with its rich fauna and flora and allow the users to commune with nature, without the interference of the Senate? The Magens Bay Authority has been successful for almost 75 years, why does the Senate need to tamper with it? Shouldn’t the Senate be dealing with more pressing issues, such as the funding of the GERS, the Waste Management Authority, the hospitals, tax refunds, unemployment compensation, etc.?
Aimery Caron, St. Thomas