SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell said in a press statement on Sunday: “First, one simple questions. What does it take to make a lifetime decision that is in the best interest of the future of our children?
“A transparent, more responsible government, or does it require a collective act of courage by the citizens of our island and those students who live and study abroad?
The future of our children seems under siege. The steady attack on our natural resources continues, regardless of the consequences thereof to our future survival as a world-class tourism destination.
“The continued negligence and adverse policy decisions that allows for the destruction of spars green spaces left on our beautiful island, clearly needs to reach a halt now. It is critically important to implement new or enforce existing policies to save and protect sparse green spots left on our Island.
“One such plot of land that remains untouched lays at the end of the causeway bridge towards Cole Bay, adjacent to the French border. Please save that land for the sake of our children to enjoy.”
Arrindell states: “While other islands are keen to preserve and protect their environment, learning from past mistakes, it seems as if we have learned little.
There are several areas that should be tagged and zoned by government as being green zones, poste haste.
“A new urban policy planning and updated zoning regulations are direly needed. Taking these actions is none too soon given the speed in which these spots are disappearing. Progress and preservation are two concepts that do not mutually exclude each other. They compliment each other if done with true motives”.
Arrindell adds: “Not supporting such policies under the same excuse ‘there is no money’, no longer holds water. Government and Parliament can work out a joint solution towards finding the funds to buy this and other small parcels of land, for green zone purposes. Most of the Dutch taxpayers 550 million Reconstruction funds have been committed to re-building concrete projects. However, thankfully some funds also went for example towards the Kid’s Youth Orchestra Project as well as to the K1 Britannia Foundation Youth Carpentry Project. Kudos to both initiatives.
“We can do more with whatever is left of the 550 million reconstruction funds. Select and establish green-zone parks in the different districts for future generations to enjoy. Government can establish a public-private partnership policy to purchase these last parcels of land. Community Councils of the districts where the areas are located must be included in this decision-making process”.
Gracita continues; “This action is more urgent than ever before in our environmental history. Once this plot of land is turned into yet another building, it will seal our destiny forever as being one of the worst environmental acts against present and generations to come.
“This beautiful piece of land is a approximately Four Thousand Square Meters (4000m2) and approximately fifteen (15) meters wide, located opposite the new Texaco gas station at the foot of the Causeway Bridge. It is alleged to be in current ownership of Port de Plaisance, leased to the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority (SLAC).
“This uniquely situated parcel of land will undoubtedly enhance the area in general and the quality of life for our citizens in particular. As a community/recreation park kids can play safely. We urge government to negotiate on behalf of our citizens a fair market price for this plot of land and preserve it as one of our nation’s parks.
There are several other areas that should be earmarked as green-zone parks as well.
These are for example,
- the parking lot in front of the former government building which is an eyesore structure for many years.
- the area in front of the former Library in Philipsburg
- a parcel of land in Belvedere located opposite Mc. Donald’s restaurant
- the Sint Maarten Zoo in Madame estate”
Gracita said: “No monies? Then explain. Following the devastations of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many none governmental organizations from all over the world including private citizens donated funds to Sint Maarten and its people. The people deserve to get a clear and unambiguous answer of a list of these donors, how much funds were donated to government and which projects have been financed by these funds over the past two years.”
PPA leader concludes: “This is a critical moment in the history of the development of our young Nation. Unless our citizens are happy with the direction our country is moving towards, we can continue to sit idle and wait for yet another project, known to few insiders, to suddenly appear on the location mentioned above. If we do not care to save this location, we will have no one else but ourselves to blame. While we cannot turn back the clock of irreparable damage done to our environment, by nature or man made, we can still do the right thing for generations to come.
“‘Regeren is vooruit zien’ is a popular Dutch saying. We firmly believe in this notion. If you do not have the vision, you cannot see it, you don’t get it. Don’t give up on what has become sparse of the legacy left behind by our ancestors. In their honor, please give our children the opportunity to enjoy those parks now”.