SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell said on Sunday that, “Residents and visitors of Billy Folly road and surrounding areas took good note of the public notice issued recently by the Ministry of ‘VROMI’ aimed at (hopefully) re-solving the dangerous stagnated water on Billy Folly road. During heavy rain- fall, anyone using this road is forced to climb adjacent low walls to avoid being run over or being splattered by drivers. Additionally, bus loads of tourists as well as hundreds of workers in the hospitality industry working in this area use this one stretch of road to reach the hotels along this area. This unsavory and often dangerous situation has been recorded and shared with authorities many times over the past decade by residents and visitors alike.
“Over the years and with governments consent and approval, this area developed into a high- density, popular tourist- destination. The time- share industry was a life –saver after Hurricane Louis in 1995. As a result of the establishment of hotels, many other businesses set up shop including beach side bar- restaurants.
These commercial activities were allowed to operate under certain conditions stipulated in their respective business licenses. One would expect these conditions to be adhered to at all times regardless of the duration of the respective permits issued. The ‘Lake’ that is created after each heavy rainfall especially in front of Atrium resort and Baker Suites is reportedly caused by a blocked drain.
Hopefully the current plans include a permanent solution to this problem.
Government should also take note that the drains in this area are prone to be blocked by mudslides from construction on the surrounding hills. What measures are taken to mitigate or prevent this from happening when building permits are issued,” queried Arrindell.
Gracita stated that, “Current Minister of VROMI, Mr. Doran should be commended for at least making the effort to solve the drainage problem. Thank you. Still unanswered questions remain regarding the origins of the problem and the costs involved for these repairs. Surely the permits issued in 2002 by the Executive Council includes conditions under which Atrium Resort and the adjacent beach-bar are built and operated.”
Arrindell continues; and urges government to work in partnership with the businesses in this area to “include proper pedestrian crossings, side -walks, safety- railings where needed in the project. Also, the repair works should include an agreement with Simpson-bay Resort, and residents located further up to fix the road in front of that property. Upgrading continues on these properties while the rooms are still empty, therefore less congested road. This is a great opportunity to fix this short stretch of road once and for all, as government is poised to re- opening our shores, inviting thousands of visitors to return to the same old dangerously bumpy road that provide income for hundreds of families from around St. Maarten.
“Past plans to upgrade the entire airport road including creating a board walk on the lagoon side should be dusted off and put ON THE TABLE and discussed openly with residents and businesses. The funds, expertise and the way to get the job done are known. What is missing is a strong will and vision combined with the ability to be transparent when bringing these plans forth and continuity in the execution and maintenance of these projects in a comprehensive manner.”
Gracita concludes and stated that: “St. Maarten is in dire need of decent smooth roads in almost every single area. Our road network is merciless for vehicles with no reprieve in sight. Perhaps the Ombudsman can start looking into these complaints as well. It’s truly sad that residents pay road tax each year through their number plates (still not available) while our road network remains in such deplorable conditions. Too many roads are in dire need of upgrading, including Cole-bay, Cay-bay area, Madame Estate, Amsterdam road in Dutch Quarter to name a few. Patchwork policies of the past simply do not cut it anymore.
“Again, we are grateful for starting the repairs as citizens look forward to the completion of the current repair works. In the meantime, and since repairs are being done in the area, can we at least get the lights on the Simpson-bay and Cause -way bridges repaired and switched on. Most appreciated!” PPA Leader Gracita Arrindell concluded in her statement on Sunday.
Water drainage system works recently being carried out on Billy Folly Road near Atrium Resort. (photo provided)
PPA Leader Gracita Arrindell