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Thomas family will 'not be manipulated' by VI Gov’t- Elaine M. Thomas-Griffith

-says Gov’t looking to get the dirt low rates for Ellis Thomas Downs
The Thomas family has said they are willing to come to an amicable conclusion regarding the ban on the use of a portion of land at Ellis Thomas Downs; however, they will not be manipulated by the government. Photo: VINO/File
Horse owners and fans of the sport have been calling on Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) to re-negotiate with the Thomas Family. Photo: GIS/File
Horse owners and fans of the sport have been calling on Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) to re-negotiate with the Thomas Family. Photo: GIS/File
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST Thomas, USVI – Elaine M. Thomas-Griffith, the daughter of the late Ellis Thomas, has taken to the media over the issues surrounding Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay and its stalled negotiations with the [British] Virgin Islands Government for use of the land.

Thomas-Griffith this time appeared on a radio show on 107.9 FM The Vibe in St Thomas, USVI on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Gov't must do the right thing- Thomas-Griffith

“We had been begging the government for years, to do what we knew the contract with us provided… we always believe that the government would do the right thing and eventually sit with us and negotiate what the contract called for, a fair adjustment to the lease terms,” she said.

Thomas-Griffith continued that an initial proposal of $4 per square foot, which is below market value, was offered and the family is not looking to get rich off the land, but to make the land available.

“We never believe for one moment that we would be in this position where the government actually is attempting to undermine their own contractual provisions. It is important for us to be here because, frankly, the people have been told a lot of lies.”

Thomas-Griffith said part of the issue is over market value of the lands where the family has never sought to get fair market value for the land. “In fact, when we began the negotiations, we began them at 50% below the lowest rate, which the government’s own evaluator said this land can go for, which is around $9.00," she said.

“So, we actually began our negotiations saying, you know what this is not about us getting rich on this, that's simply not what it is, it was a passion for my father,” he said.

No manipulation - Mrs Thomas-Griffith

Ms Thomas-Griffith added that the Thomas family will not be manipulated into accepting low rates for the lease of the land in respect of their late father. “He left his children with a clear mandate concerning this land, that if the Premier is listening, he should hear me say, this land is not for sale. What you do on it has to be an activity that continues to foster the racing in a wholesome way for the people of the BVI.”

She said the government leased lands from the other landowner at the track for one cent per square foot for several years.

“You will not be able to intimidate my family and we certainly are educated people, so we read your document and we understand that this is an opportunity for the BVI to move forward and advance horse racing, but it's also an opportunity for the government to do that which is just and fair and right concerning the land owners that have land in this track,” she added.

Many have been calling for the government to resolve the impasse with the Thomas family so that horse racing can be held for the 70th Emancipation Festival.

Efforts to get a comment from Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) were futile.

62 Responses to “Thomas family will 'not be manipulated' by VI Gov’t- Elaine M. Thomas-Griffith”

  • Don't understand. (13/05/2024, 17:57) Like (45) Dislike (38) Reply
    What is she saying.? Plenty greed and no love for people...Don't understand what she is saying..
    • Grammer school (13/05/2024, 20:16) Like (20) Dislike (10) Reply
      So I see that you were very slow in school....u don't read well nor do you listen to facts hence the reason you don't understand anything.......the obvious shows
    • Abandon it (13/05/2024, 20:23) Like (38) Dislike (8) Reply
      We dont want the stupid horse track. It costs millions that seems to go into the hands of a few horse owners. Let’s just abandon it and see if anybody want to pay $4 per square foot for land that can’t even see the sea.
      • @Abandon It (14/05/2024, 08:15) Like (20) Dislike (12) Reply
        That's an option the government has. However the government's own appraiser told them the land is worth 9.00, the family then says we'll go 50% below the 9.00. It doesn't matter that you can't see the sea. The land is prime land and the family is willing to go way below the lowest value of it. The Government needs to stop slandering the family in the eye of the public. If they can't pay, they should just say that.
      • Ringo (14/05/2024, 16:12) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
        Common sense has no place in your home.
    • @don't understand. Me too. (14/05/2024, 03:06) Like (20) Dislike (18) Reply
      That's a heap a Bull she talking. That's what happen when parents passed down property, wealth and legacy to children hoping they will do the right things. Young people only see money in everything. The dead man can't be happy, he was more concern about the culture and seeing people showing up to the raíces and seeing them happy..Just like me. Once people are happy I am happy. Nothing beats happiness. Not even money...Rich people pay millions for their happiness. My dead lady seek happiness. Let the happiness 9f the people put smiles on your Face and Joy in your heart. Make it about the people and not the money or the Govt.
    • @Don't understand (14/05/2024, 08:11) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
      Lawdy you slow.
    • Partna (14/05/2024, 08:52) Like (37) Dislike (3) Reply
      Is her land, she do what she wants. My question is... why the tax payer money being used for it in the first place.
    • Greg (16/05/2024, 21:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Bullcrap. She is saying to leave them alone. It is their family land to do with as they please. The family should clear the land and build housing for the upcoming generations, to always have a place to live. Once homes are built, horse racing has to find another location to mess up. Without generational family land, you will have to pay rent to other landlords, which would be asinine.
  • SHAME (13/05/2024, 18:02) Like (16) Dislike (7) Reply
    Cunning tactics adopted from head couch and taught to his minions will no longer suffice!

    We saw this playbook with the UK damming letter which was suppressed and delayed from the pubic.

    Central control of the government’s budget by one man is bad practice and inefficient! Another one of head couch invented schemes!

    The master mind of wasting government money is now with electricity, but money will continue to waste!
  • okay (13/05/2024, 18:16) Like (21) Dislike (3) Reply
    So how many square feet are you leasing to the government please..or how many acres ?

    Let us put a $$$ value to this annual lease please.
    • @ okay (13/05/2024, 22:06) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      The square foot will add up to the hold area of the land if it a 100 square feet them just add it up
    • @ ok (14/05/2024, 08:56) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      there's 43,560 square feet in 1 acre. The land is 6acres.
      43560x6= 261,360 sq ft
      261,360 sq ft x 4.00= 1,045,440
      these are usually done on a yearly basis.
      • okay (14/05/2024, 10:36) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply

        A mil per year ??? Wow.." not wanting to get rich of the property".?? How many years you been leasing it out ???

        Maybe the land owner should run the horse race track make it a business enterprise then see how it works out.
        Just sayin
        • @okay (14/05/2024, 11:12) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
          it's not the family's fault what the government's appraiser said it's worth. the family even reduced it to 2.50. If they were trying to get rich they go for the highest amount possible.
      • HMMM (14/05/2024, 12:04) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
        and the amount you calculated is annual rent for the Thomas family for six acres alone. What about the other landowners who have more acres? If they also want $4 an acre then Gov't will be paying out millions annually for an activity that aint making Gov't no money. The cost is not worth it!
  • annudda2cents (13/05/2024, 18:17) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    $4.00 per square foot how? Per month? Per year?
  • Normally (13/05/2024, 19:18) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    Leases are normally at $$/sq.ft/year. I believe it was $0.31/sq.ft at 6.5 acres = ~$91,000.00. If that's per year, fine. If it's per month, spend the $$$ on infrastructure.
  • HOW COME (13/05/2024, 19:26) Like (10) Dislike (4) Reply
    The third district representative, forgot to call out the VIP but chooses to go and chase down the COI / so as the lady said , SHE is * EDUCATED * and is prepared to DEFEND HER FATHER'S HONOR along with the rest of her FAMILY •¿• ( VERY INTELLIGENT ) BECAUSE THE 3RD DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE IS ( MISSING IN ACTION ), WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT IS REALLY GOING WITH THAT HORSE RACE TRACT SAGA • even the wigged ONE is trying ah TING on HIM , , , WE GUESS HE LOOKING RANK , WHO KNOWS , HE MIGHT ( GEH IT DO ) and HOPEFULLY , BRING
  • .... (13/05/2024, 19:27) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    that land them clear out for music fest/ festival village (yea I done see them going move it over deh lol) aint big enough to hold a track or wa...we could push out more dirt and just used down the to stock pile old car
  • premier (13/05/2024, 20:30) Like (33) Dislike (11) Reply
    I listened to the interview and it's clear that the priemer is lying to the people. He sounds like a broken record everytime he is asked about the track. He is clearly not in negotiations with the family. 30 cent a square foot is not money. Any one in their right mind in 2024 will not accept that for their land. Cost of living keeps going up and there is nothing in the supermarket for 30 cents. Bullshit. The Thomas family should stand their grounds.
  • HMMM (13/05/2024, 21:33) Like (6) Dislike (29) Reply
    Anywhere else the Premier would have fallen on his sword and submitted his resignation for lying to the people in such a way. When will this man do the right thing for the good of the country and step down. Failing that some members of the governing side need to cross the floor and call a vote of no confidence. If none of them do this we need to remember and they should not get a single vote at the next election
  • take that land! (13/05/2024, 22:13) Like (10) Dislike (18) Reply
    Imminent Domain asap! If it is not about the money, then why are you guys trying to renegotiate the value of the land from $4 closer to $9? the sole purpose of the land is and will be only used for horse racing.
    • @take the land (14/05/2024, 08:18) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
      or government could stop lying on the family, they could also relocate and leave the family alone.
    • @take the land (14/05/2024, 11:57) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      "then why are you guys trying to renegotiate the value of the land from $4 closer to $9?". lawdy, listen to understand.... the family is reducing it from 9.00 to 4.00. The government's OWN appraiser is who says it/s 9.00, not the family. The family is consuming a major loss here.
  • Want get rich (13/05/2024, 22:31) Like (16) Dislike (6) Reply
    Obviously you want get rich off the land 4$ per square foot ! Keep that we going parry to develop our own horse race track we ain’t got to pay ayo Thomas people!
    Typical tolian rather things sit and get nothing than take a little payment to maintain it ! Let hope the weed wacker man charge you 4$per square foot before trees carpet that plot !
    • @Want get rich (14/05/2024, 08:21) Like (8) Dislike (5) Reply
      You understand the government's own appraiser is who stated it worth 9.00 and the family is saying we'll go 4.00? typical to want more for less. I suggest you listen to how much Mr. Thomas has already donated and given away. Now you want them to give more?
    • Strupes (14/05/2024, 09:34) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
      You sound so frigging stupid. I choose food security over a horse track.
  • Bullshit! (13/05/2024, 23:01) Like (19) Dislike (7) Reply
    The Thomas family think we are fools? Premier our roads, infrastructure, healthcare, schools are far more important than paying out millions to the Thomas family. I would prefer to lobby for the UK to take over. In one breath they claiming that the government is not negotiating and the other that they prefer to keep their land than give it away, so ask them why they on Cindy show bawling. They miss all that money they been getting for a dormant track. Let them go develop.their own land to run their own business and stop raping the people of the Virgin Uslands.
  • Oh Please_Let's move on pass this Saga (13/05/2024, 23:41) Like (24) Dislike (3) Reply
    Mr. Premier:

    Move the track to another location and leave the Thomas Family with their land. Please do not waste the taxpayers' dollars to secure a new lease with the reference family. It is not worth it. Let's build a better and modern track elsewhere in the Virgin Islands. When you want all in the end you get nothing. Let's move on pass this. The horses are already out the Territory, so let's make a decision and move to a new location that the government owns out right which mean no leases to expire including terms and conditions to change.
  • ccc (13/05/2024, 23:48) Like (2) Dislike (12) Reply
    Ms Thomas called out the premier he needs to go we need our horse track back
  • RedStorm (14/05/2024, 04:43) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Stand you ground,if this is about money. If not accept it and move on. It is better to live in a little house that have peace, than to live in a mansion with a brawling woman.
  • True (14/05/2024, 05:15) Like (8) Dislike (8) Reply
    If you new the late Mr. Elise Thomas he would have stood his grounds the same way his daughter is doing.Fair is Fair.
  • 2024 (14/05/2024, 06:33) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    our territory have changed because the administration finds millions of our tax payers money

    the tax payers money is used freely to for entertainment, you know put large sums of money in the pockets of the Artist from outside

    now when it comes to our own people look pun drama……

    Horse racing was in BVI for years and might I say at the same location however suddenly hole thing mash up

    just a few years ago our tax money paid over thirty thousand dollars each month to a white guy associated with the established RDA(do the math) because that been around here for a while

  • Truth (14/05/2024, 06:39) Like (5) Dislike (8) Reply
    Compulsory acquisition is the order of the day!
  • @ PREMIER (14/05/2024, 06:56) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    It's called *RAT RACE * , and I hope those Caribbean brothers and sisters are opening th00eir ( eyes & ears ) to how we are
    treating our own *
    BVILANDERS * , so don't expect any better , ( you read it here first / more power to us , and the key word is ( POWER ) YEP ITS ALL ABOUT THAT MIGHTY POWER . the last election was friendly reminder of the games that these so called ARISTOCRATS operate
  • Many birds (14/05/2024, 07:20) Like (9) Dislike (10) Reply
    Move the track to government lands on Anegada and have the races on weekends/holidays. Special price ferry tickets, taxi's, auto rentals, hotel rooms, restaurants, etc... just for those events. it will boost the economy over there.
    • want to know (14/05/2024, 07:59) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply

      I could see you don’t have a clue of what you talking about. So you saying that the owners have to catch a boat 3:00 in the morning to watch there horse dem work out and catch a boat back tola to do the same thing in the afternoon? Your an :$$s or wa?

      • @ want to know (14/05/2024, 11:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Yeah mehson, you could tell that person don't know what it takes to deal with a horse on a daily basis. They are like 1500lb children
      • Many birds (14/05/2024, 12:12) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        What nonsense are you asking?

        The owners can hire a person or company in Anegada to do that, you genius. Or they can work out a private grooming arrangement with the Thomas family and ship the horses over to Anegada for the races. You have no problem when they ship the horses to USVI for races, eh?

        What about horse owners from Anegada? Or Virgin Gorda?

        Suppose the government were to tax the owners on their prize monies? Then you would be calling them names too? You people believe the tax payers should be paying ransom money to the Thomas's. Or for the horse owners' convenience and the other sh!+ you all like to get away with.
    • @many birds (14/05/2024, 10:54) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      You can't put a track their now until the island is fully developed woth hospital and all the other proper infrastructural development. Good idea but a lot more tought have to go into the idea
    • nope (14/05/2024, 12:48) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Anegada is made up of limestone. It will cost a fortune to make the land surface suitable for horse racing alone. Nope. If that didn't need to be done then it could definitely work.
  • want to know (14/05/2024, 07:41) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    So she telling me that the government paying them for 6 acres when the piece on the track is less than an acre? What are you talking about? You want the government to lease all the land you own in Sea cows bay even where your house is? Wa the hell you think this is? 6.5 acres? That’s more than the whole track!! People don’t be fooled.
    • Slim Jim (14/05/2024, 10:02) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
      Dear friend,

      Research the facts before you start speaking...

      The lands that are currently used by the horsetrack are comprised of lands leased from private individuals and Crown land. The lands that comprise the southern half of the race track are owned by the Thomas family and are made up of 3 lots of land amounting to roughly 6 and a half acres. That's fact... look it up at Land Registry if you wish to actually learn the truth.

      Now, regarding this saga with the racetrack, I am no horseracing aficionado and have no stake in this entire incident except for the fact that I am a tax-payer and MY taxes have been going into paying for this lease for years. If its a matter of national interest as far as a necessity that benefits the entire country and cannot be reasonably gotten elsewhere on more favorable terms (food, water, roads, electricity, security, etc.) then I am fine with the Government seeking to acquire the lands either by purchase or compulsory acquisition. But, for a niche interest that is primarily about entertainment, gambling and other less-savoury activities, then I am at a loss why we are so concerned about forcing the family to come to terms.

      Right now we have much greater priorities than mere entertainment to be concerned about. Is anyone asking what value for money we get on many of these infrastructural projects like the sewerage plants, the roadworks, etc? Or do we simply ascribe to the simplistic philosophy that "its circulating money in the country"? Just because my neighbor makes 5 million dollars doesn't mean that it "circulates" to me. Rather, he will use that money to create more means to suck more monies out of MY pocket and into his. As an example, we have more cruise ships with more passengers yet can the average person tell me where they have personally seen a gain in their income or are they still still with wages they are not satisfied with, an over-burdened and crumbling infrastructure, an educational system that seemingly churns out mediocrity and calls it "greatness", amidst a society that seems to be falling apart with violence, drug and sex trafficking, blue and white collar crimes, and general immorality on the rise?

      My people, we are poor, blind, wretched and naked yet, we seem to be so puffed up and fileld with foolish pride while chasing after emptiness and vanity. Wake up!

      This is not worth it... focus on what's meaningful for ourselves and our children (whether born here or not... we're in this together) and stop messing around with foolishness and short-sighted nonsense. Horse-racing is a sport, fueled by gambling, that abuses the lives and health of the poor animals that are used to keep it going and discarded like trash the minute their usefulness ends. It this what we are killing ourselves over rather that seeking accountability and transparency from our leaders?

      Wake up!
  • Strupes (14/05/2024, 08:04) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    That's greed on both ends and your dad wouldn't have prolong this extra funds your asking for cause ya'll don't maintain the track. Government just need to build up beef island or somewhere that has enough space for track n stadium and just let those ppl enjoy their land in peace.
  • Tola Again (14/05/2024, 08:07) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    Build else where and forget bout them ppl land. They're gonna be back down the line to accept the deal that was already there.
  • resident (14/05/2024, 08:25) Like (7) Dislike (6) Reply
    government can find money for what they want like parties, pay the family what they asking for
  • ... (14/05/2024, 08:28) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    I dont believe the government is doing everything they can to solve this situation. It seems they become hard headed and set themselves in opposition for the sake of it at. Incredible consultants can get crazy pay to do nothing and yet they dont want to pay a local family for their land at a decent rate.

    91k to use the track a year... no if they get sued for anything on that land related to horse racing and entertaining the public en mass... is government going to pay for their lawyer?
  • Tax payers (14/05/2024, 08:31) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Islands falling apart and we talking horse race BVI why we need that now .
  • El Demonio Negro (14/05/2024, 08:44) Like (2) Dislike (9) Reply
    I believe her people like the Premier believe only WHITES smart and everybody else dunce and uneducated. SLOWande could never try that if a WHITE man own the land the government would be paying $10.00 per square inch right now. Now they want to chump off Ellis children just another way Andrew mess us up with his nonsense we left with this current MOOK as Premier.
  • Horses (14/05/2024, 09:38) Like (1) Dislike (4) Reply
    I’m sorry but the horses shouldn’t be here. There are no suitable equestrian facilities here.
  • onlooker (14/05/2024, 09:56) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    People need to listen to the whole interview instead of just listening to snippets and making comments. First the interviewee was on a radio station in StThomas. Cindy just re broadcast it. Second this is her side of the story the invitation was extended to the govt to present their side. Maybe they have more info than we are privy to. Third I agree that spending one million or close to every year for a sport that's not benefitting me or thousands of others may not be the best way to spend taxpayers money. Just get investors.
  • want to know (14/05/2024, 10:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Investors are not going to write 3 checks.
  • cut and paste (14/05/2024, 10:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Listen y’all just need stop this back and forth. It’s obvious everyone is playing games here. Just move the damn thing to pari plenty space there.
  • VOTER6BVI (14/05/2024, 11:29) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
  • Hmm (14/05/2024, 12:07) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Government back in the day should have signed a 99 year lease ......................
  • Hmph (15/05/2024, 19:24) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    If they was caucasian y’all would have pay that swiftly though . Not making it about race but the hypocrisy is crazy.

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