This photo was posted Sunday afternoon, November 2, to the Coral Bay Summers End Discussion Facebook page by William Willigerod with the caption “Work in progress passenger side by my artist daughter Diana.”
CORAL BAY — After meeting their initial $50,000 fundraising goal in just over a week, Save Coral Bay organizers have set their sights even higher.
The group is now trying to raise $100,000 to fight the Summer’s End Group’s plan to construct a 145-slip marina in Coral Bay, which was granted permits by the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee in October.
“We increased the fundraising goal because the level of public support exceeded our expectations,” said David Silverman, a Coral Bay resident who has taken an active role in the Save Coral Bay campaign. “We believe that we will need a larger amount of money in order to complete our defense campaign.”
Every penny raised by the Save Coral Bay campaign, mainly via a GoFundMe site at www.gofundme.com/coralbay, will be used to protect the harbor, explained Silverman.
“One hundred percent of what we raise is for the defense of Coral Bay harbor which includes the legal expenses, any additional environmental research we will need to undertake to provide input to the Army Corps of Engineers and further planning for sustainable uses of Coral Bay harbor,” Silverman said.
The goal of $100,000 was set because organizers are unsure how long this legal fight could last, Silverman added.
“As anyone who has been involved in a lawsuit knows, it is a dangerous business to predict how long and how much money it will take,” he said. “But with $100,000 we believe this will get us well down the road.”
As of Tuesday, October 28, a total of 424 people had donated $57,927, just 18 days after launching the www.gofundme.com/coralbay website. Those donations are coming in from across the country, Silverman added.
“I can tell you that we’ve had more than 400 individual donations and I can tell you that our contributions have ranged from $5 to many thousands of dollars,” said Silverman. “The funds are coming from a wide diversity of people. I would say the vast majority are not residents of the Virgin Islands.”
“Many of the donations are coming from visitors, vacationers and people who love the bay and love the Virgin Islands,” said the community activist.
In addition to the GoFundMe website, Silverman and fellow Save Coral Bay campaign organizers have created a www.savecoralbay.com website as an avenue to provide primary source documents to the public.
New Website Up
“The www.savecoralbay.com website is designed so that people who want more in depth information about what is going on have a place to go for primary documents,” Silverman said. “It has letters to the editor on it, feature news stories, the developer’s application, the engineering documents, SEG’s marketing documents, their EAR and more. It’s all there.”
While Silverman is the lead organizer of the GoFundMe website, he collaborated with a group of like minded citizens in creating the savecoralbay.com website, he explained.
“I am the central person on the GoFundMe campaign and it was a collaborative effort to build the www.savecoralbay.com website,” said the community activist. “We have documents from hundreds of different people and we had technical assistance from a number of places. We are all collaborating in the most remarkable way from all over the place, literally.”
In addition to the www.gofundme.com/coralbay site, funds are being realized and awareness is being raised through a popular bumper sticker campaign — available at http://nashvilleusvi.blogspot.com/p/savecoralbay.html — and through a Save Coral Bay Facebook page.
The social media campaign is reaching around the globe, according to Silverman.
“The multimedia social media campaign is literally reaching across the world,” he said. “I am able to see the statistics for the website and in two days we had people viewing from five different continents; Australia, Europe, Asia and North and South America.”
“That’s the beauty of the internet and we are really using it to its potential,” Silverman said. “We are being pointed in directions about how to promote this and how to get into places to reach more and more people.”
Raising awareness is the top priority for the Save Coral Bay campaign, according to Silverman.
“The number one thing people can do is spread the message,” he said. “The more people who know what is going on and feel connected to the cause, the more strength we will have to actually have public comments. In order to reach the Army Corps of Engineers, we need to have a real army of supporters.”
“Getting the message out is critical,” said Silverman.
While donations are always appreciated, the campaign to save Coral Bay from the planned mega-marina can be helped by expert assistance as well, Silverman explained.
“There are some people whose main resource is a financial one,” he said. “But the more people who know about this will enable us to find expert assistance and different kinds of help.”
As the groundswell of support for the Save Coral Bay campaign continues to grow, the group could help the harbor area in the future, Silverman added.
“Once we get this immediate threat to our survival behind us, the number of really positive ideas of how we can improve things is emerging out of the woodwork,” he said. “For a long time people didn’t want to talk about this, but now we are. We know now that we can easily get people together to really improve conditions in Coral Bay harbor.”
“We can make this a place we’re really proud of,” said Silverman. “We have a group of passionate people who really want to do whatever they can do to save Coral Bay.”
For more information about the Save Coral Bay campaign, check out the group’s website at www.savecoralbay.com, to make a donation go to www.gofundme.com/coralbay and to order Save Coral Bay bumper stickers, go to http://nashvilleusvi.blogspot.com/p/savecoralbay.html.