Public facilities

A Beaconite appreciates the work that Dean “Sportsman” Greenaway recently put in through social media to show the state of public recreation facilities in the territory. Though some have recently been resurfaced and have sheltered bleachers, far too many are seriously dilapidated, with poor lighting and overgrown vegetation. Many lack restroom facilities, while others are far too unsanitary to use. How is it not possible to find the resources for the basic maintenance of public facilities in a $400 million budget? The Beaconite has heard from residents repeatedly about the disappointment of athletes — especially young ones — who lack the support they need to excel in sports. While motorcades and other celebrations are fantastic and well-deserved demonstrations of support, such gestures are not enough on their own. Courts and fields need attention if leaders want to promote the health of future generations.


Ferry plan

Efforts have been made recently in cutting down traffic in Road Town and making it more pedestrian-friendly. The recent park-and-ride electric shuttles are a good effort toward that end, but the waterways around Tortola remain an underused tool. A Beaconite was interested to read recently in the Cayman Compass newspaper that the island of Grand Cayman is experimenting with transporting commuters by ferry. A 35-passenger boat now takes commuters from residential areas in the central part of the island to the Camana Bay commercial district in the west, a 15-minute ride that sees passengers zipping past traffic and cutting their commute time significantly. Although the boat only travels twice a day, the company that operates it hopes to expand the service. The Beaconite believes a similar service here would have success taking commuters from East End, for example, all the way to the cruise pier or somewhere nearby. Many sister islands residents already commute by ferry. Perhaps there are already ferry services operating in the territory with suitable vessels interested in taking on this route.


Press conferences

A Beaconite is glad to see the premier host press conferences more often in recent weeks, fielding wide-ranging questions from the media alongside other government ministers. But she can’t help but wish that such transparency had started a lot sooner — instead of just a few months before the upcoming elections. The reporter began working as a journalist in the territory alongside the current administration. Her first story was a Virgin Islands Party rally just weeks before the elections in 2019. During her three years as a reporter, neither she nor her colleagues were ever given a sit-down interview with the premier, despite many attempts and many empty promises. While she is happy to take up the opportunity now to ask questions at these press conferences, she hasn’t forgotten her past experiences.



Reef monitoring

A Beaconite is happy to see a group of Virgin Islands scientists participating in a training programme to help them better monitor the territory’s coral reefs. In the absence of a government-driven programme, reef monitoring in recent years has largely fallen to non-governmental organisations and dive companies, who sometimes rely on tourists to gather data, especially on the spread of stony coral tissue loss disease. Stakeholders have also had to get creative when securing funding, and grants from the United Kingdom have funded some of the most prominent conservation projects in the recent years. But the value of the territory’s reefs far outstrips the money being spent to preserve them: A report published last month estimated that over the next 25 years, the VI’s coral reefs could contribute a value of roughly $1.3 billion to the territory’s economy. So while he is glad to know that VI biologists are learning cutting-edge strategies for tracking reef health, he worries the training might not make much difference without continuous financial support from government. Government leaders welcomed last month’s report as a way to inform policy and spending decisions. Looking at how much money healthy reefs are likely to bring in, it’s hard to see how spending money now won’t pay off down the line.