February 6, 2024
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is pleased to announce the successful closing of the St. John land exchange agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and the National Park Service. The agreement paves the way for the construction of the state-of-the-art Julius Sprauve PreK -12 school on the island of St. John while preserving culturally significant land and artifacts at Estate Catherineberg.
This significant milestone has been years in the making and represents a dedicated effort to address a longstanding educational and community need for St. John residents.
In April 2020, Governor Albert Bryan Jr., in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. National Park System, established the St. John School Land Exchange Team to advance this essential project. Under Governor Bryan’s leadership, the Government of the Virgin Islands has come closer than ever to realizing this dream.
“I am immensely proud to see this day finally arrive, as it signifies a giant leap forward in providing equitable educational opportunities for the students of St. John,” said Governor Albert Bryan Jr. “This achievement has been more than 50 years in the making, and it reflects our unwavering commitment to the people of St. John.”
The closing of this agreement finalizes a land exchange between the Department of the Interior, its U.S. National Park Service, and the Virgin Islands Government. It entails the exchange of Whistling Cay, an uninhabited Cay off the coast of St. John, home to various animal species, for the Estate Catherineberg property, a centrally located parcel on the island with immense historical and cultural significance to Virgin Islands history.
Under the land exchange agreement, the National Park Service will continue to uphold and enforce existing wildlife protection and local access laws at Whistling Cay.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has committed more than $133 million to fund the construction of the Julius Sprauve PreK -12 school. This modern facility will not only serve as an educational institution but will also function as a vital storm shelter and a valuable community space for the residents of St. John.
Governor Bryan extends his gratitude to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the leadership at the National Park Service, and the Virgin Islands National Park for their relentless efforts and collaboration with the Virgin Islands Government to bring this project to fruition.
The governor also acknowledges the unwavering support of Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett and the members of the 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, whose commitment has been instrumental in overcoming longstanding challenges to education, safety, and the quality of life for St. John students and residents.