Being prone to floods during heavy rains is just one of the reasons the Coral Bay dumpsters, above, should be relocated, according to CBCC’s president Sharon Coldren.
Coral Bay’s main dumpster area and mangroves took center stage at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on Tuesday, April 12.
Testifying before members of the V.I. Senate’s Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection on St. Thomas, Coral Bay Community Council president Sharon Coldren spoke about the need to relocate the dumpsters and showed images of the garbage-strewn and often flooded area.
The committee, chaired by Senator Louis Hill, also took testimony from V.I. Waste Management Authority director May Adams Cornwall and other officials.
For her part, Coldren spoke about St. John recycling efforts, the need to move the dumpsters and past efforts to create a waste center elsewhere in the Coral Bay area, she explained.
“I presented six pages of written testimony about recycling and St. John and Coral Bay’s willingness to be involved in recycling,” said Coldren. “I pointed out the great volunteer effort which has managed the aluminum can recycling program.”
Coldren also urged VIWMA officials to cover the cost and be responsible for transporting the collected cans to St. Thomas for recycling, she added.
“I made the point that VIWMA should transport the cans off-island,” said the CBCC president. “But of course there are no funds for that. The point was made that St. John has proved that it supports recycling because we are doing it.”
Sharing a slideshow on the dumpster area in Coral Bay, located just past the South Shore Road and King Hill Road intersection, Coldren didn’t have to point out that the area is an eyesore, she explained.
“I gave a short slide presentation on our dumpsters in Coral Bay and our desire to move them because of the environmental degradation to our marine nursery,” said Coldren. “I didn’t have to say what an eyesore the area is, they could see that. I stated that the stormwater debris is ending up in our sensitive marine habitat in the bay.”
The dumpsters have been in their present location since about 2001, when government officials poured a concrete slab in the area. Before that, one dumpster would be placed either in the present location or across the street, which met the area’s needs at the time.
Since 2001 however, the population of Coral Bay, both short-term and long-term, has skyrocketed and there are now three dumpsters which must be emptied twice a week to keep up with the piles of trash.
In addition to the environmental hazards, the area is also a danger to residents, Coldren explained.
“Since 2001, we’ve been trying to get those dumpsters moved to a safer location,” she said. “They are located on a dangerous blind curve and it is not an area that Penn Trucking thinks is a safe place to bring their trucks either.”
“They definitely need to move the dumpsters for the safety of the people, for aesthetics and for nature,” said Coldren.
While there are no easy answers for a new dumpster location, Coldren presented the committee with several possibilities.
“We need to move the dumpsters to another piece of property, either a government owned property which we don’t have much of, or we need to obtain property,” said the CBCC president. “Like a lot of other government services it comes down to needing money.”
About a year ago several Coral Bay residents approached Coldren with an idea to erect a garbage collection center on Department of Agriculture land, she explained.
“The idea was to build this center on Agriculture land between the land designated for farming and the wetlands, across from the dumpsters,” said Coldren. “It would be nestled under the trees, be screened and fenced and the plan was to make sure that it would have all of the environmental things it needed.”
Plans for the center were drawn and residents met with Department of Agriculture officials, explained Coldren.
“There were plans and we met with the commissioner of Agriculture who told us that some other use would have to be made with the land and not the center,” she said. “We are going to have to revisit that plan or move up Kings Hill Road someplace where the land is still zoned for this type of use.”
Senator Hill was scheduled to meet with Department of Agriculture officials last week to discuss land use in the Coral Bay area, according to the CBCC president. Wherever the dumpsters end up, the message Coldren left the committee was clear.
“They need to do something,” she said. “The dumpsters have to get out of the mangroves.”