Economic Impact

"The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself"
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Establishing a campus and marina on an isolated peninsula on the island of St. Croix creates several challenges to an already depressed economy. By developing buildings, roads and a marina where there currently are none will potentially have negative impacts on the island community and its resources.

The current site planned for the MREC project is exposed to the coast and in an area prone to hurricanes, high winds and large salt sprays…all of which are damaging and will require maintenance, repair and in the event of destructive occurrences, major renovations and repair. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo destroyed the West Indies Laboratory of Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), a marine research station at the eastern end of Saint Croix. The West Indies Laboratory had been a paradise of a research facility. The lab brought together undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, and conservationists from all over the world. Before Hugo smashed it almost to pieces, the lab’s research work had resulted in nearly 250 scientific publications. Sadly, the university and associated research partners abandoned the site due to financial reasons and to date, it sits silently corroding, with no one taking responsibility for its removal or renovation. The island of St. Croix was left with this eyesore and it is not in any economic plans to deal with this site. What are the commitments and assurances from the MREC that should it befall a similar natural disaster, it would quickly be repaired and resume its purpose?

By their own admission and vision, the current MREC planned construction is to be “passively survivable (includes storm surge and climate change) with a 49 year lifespan. Then what? The story of abandonment and land abuse history repeats itself.

Creation of a paved road, accessible to the public and for the students, faculty and employees of the MREC will be very expensive to make and maintain. The money used to create this road could be used to repair existing roads on the island where there is daily use by more people.

The land is currently under the care of the National Park Service as a protected National Historic Site, where residents and tourists alike can visit unencumbered.

Once the MREC is developed, access to the park and the bay will be restricted and visits will be regulated by the MREC. Local businesses that rely on tourists visiting Bio Bay, kayaking, sailing and snorkeling will be adversely effected.

Through the MREC development, the topography of the land and the bay will be changed forever. There will be erosion and runoff which will impact the water, the coral and marine life. Any future efforts to “reverse” these effects will be expensive, if they are ever even approved.

The current parking lots planned do not look adequate for the staff, students, visitors and employees. This will result in more development, destruction of vegetation, and more topography changes, erosion and runoff.

By isolating students and faculty on this planned site, other areas of the island will not benefit daily from this facility (local markets, retail shops, restaurants).