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Legislative Update: VI Legislature Confirms Dr. Paul Simmonds to the CZM

AARP’s State President, Dr. Paul G. Simmonds, was nominated by the Governor of the Virgin Islands, John P. deJongh (D), to serve on the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Commission. The US Congress created the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972 to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s costal zones for succeeding generations. In 1978 the VI Legislature enacted VI Act 4248 establishing the local CZM with the primary responsibility of implementation of the law.

See Also: St. Croix Residents – Are You Worried About the Air You Breathe?

At the confirmation hearing on February 7, 2012, Dr. Simmonds stated, “I am very concerned about the protection and preservation of our precious assets, our lands and our waters, that belong to Virgin Islanders. These assets are a legacy of which we are blessed to have, and I intend to do my part to ensure that future generations can enjoy the maximum returns on these assets, whether those returns are social, cultural, environmental or economic.

Dr. Simmonds appreciates the need for a holistic approach when considering any type of development along the territory’s limited shore lines and the need to balance economic progress and development while still maintaining our pristine beaches, water and ecological balance. Currently, we are in the midst of many hot debates in our legislature which revolve around the CZM permitting process before economic development can continue.

Dr. Simmonds cited the past Commission’s inability to develop a comprehensive coastal zone plan as an abdication of the community’s trust. He pledges to make the development of a comprehensive land and water use plan along with the corresponding criteria for implementation one of his priorities. His mission is to not let short sightedness allow the overdevelopment of the Virgin Islands.

One of the most striking things exposed during the confirmation hearings was the territory’s inability to identify persons who have the time, interest and commitment to serve on Boards and Commissions. Many times the CZM has been unable to meet for the mere lack of a quorum to conduct business. As a representative of AARP, he urged retirees to become more involved with the community by volunteering with groups that provide needed services to others. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please visit us at the AARP Virgin Islands web page. We also encourage you to visit our social media sites on Facebook and Twitter.
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