Posted on July 29, 2010
This donation box “for feeding the animals” is at a mini-zoo in the rainforest, part of the entertainment at a little stand that sells fabulous tropical fruit smoothies. The brightly hand-painted box sits on the metal base from an old Singer treadle sewing machine — somehow not out of place at all in this rustic location.
In another form of donation, the local Senate has just passed legislation appropriating up to $7 million for the government to negotiate the purchase of 12.4 acres of land deep in the rainforest. Now that’s almost $565,000 per acre. For comparison, a 31 acre plot in the same area is listed on MLS for $465,000. Yes, 31 acres for less than the price of one.
The land in question had been leased by the government for use as a rock quarry in 1929. That use ended in 1940, and the land was rezoned agricultural in the 1950’s, disallowing future use as a quarry. In defense of their recent action, our Senators have variously alluded to the land’s environmental and public value as parkland, to the value of the rocks still there, and to the injustice done to the owners (presumably by the rezoning over 50 years ago).
It would be nice if all families who suffered injustice over the past half century could be so compensated. I wish I understood the history and logic that allow this to move forward without public objection. It’s not as though there are no other important uses for the money.
The picture below of a Fed-Ex truck hustling along Church Street in Christiansted town illustrates the contrasts and contradictions that result from the mix of modern enterprise, with the sometimes unfamiliar island priorities and view of the world. It can be difficult at times to distinguish the things that add charm from those that cause frustration.