The St John Tradewinds reports:
Since falling in love with St. John during family vacations as a teenager, Lauren Mercadante introduced her own husband and children to the island. The sight of condos will never mar the landscape of Haulover Bay thanks to one woman’s desire to give back to the island which has been a part of her life for decades. The family purchased a home in the Coral Bay area and spend a large portion of the year on Love City. While Mercadante has long volunteered for Friends of V.I. National Park doing trail maintenance and as a docent at Annaberg Sugar Mill, this winter she made an impact on the island which will be appreciated for generations.
St. John Land Conservancy and purchased more than three acres of property on the isthmus, saving it forever from development. “I wasn’t planning on this, but we had talked about doing something of this sort for St. John,” said Mercadante. “I assumed wrongly that this niche was taken and I didn’t want to tread on anyone’s toes. But we had talked about doing something to give back to St. John, which we love so much and is such a huge part of my life and my kids’ lives.” Although she didn’t plan on creating a conservation trust during her winter months on St. John, after reading about the possible fate of pristine Haulover Bay on the island’s East End — which was on the market with a motivated seller — in St. John Tradewinds, Mercadante formed the “When I read the article, I was surprised that Haulover was for sale,” she said. “I read the story and that is what started this. I called Raf Muilenburg and we got the ball rolling.”
Thanks to Mercadante, that is exactly what happened. She contacted Muilenburg in February and the two immediately set to work creating the non-profit conservation trust St. John Land Conservancy. The developer was, however, open to selling the land to a conservation trust at a reduced price, Muilenburg previously explained.“David [Prevo] is a longtime fan of the Park, and is intrigued about the benefits for FPC’s nearby development at Dreekets Bay of dedicating this piece as conservation property,” Muilenburg previously said. “As such, FPC would be willing to sell it for conservation at the amount they paid for it about 10 years ago, plus property taxes and other costs incurred, approximately $800,000 total, which is half or less of the likely market price.”