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Charville: ‘Bay of Marigot project lacks detail, precise information’

MARIGOT--Independent Councillor Jules Charville said Thursday, disclosure that the main impact studies for the current version of the Bay of Marigot Project will be passed onto the investor throws it into a different light, not least in terms of cost, and is contrary to the belief these studies would have been done before the investor came on board.

As it stands following last Thursday's Territorial Council vote, where the project was presented by Philippe Ricochin from Cabinet Tropisme, the estimated 300-million-euro project now moves from the diagnostic/ preparation phase to a bidding phase. Launch of the bid is to last for one year with an expectation the new investor takes on the project in 2016.

The investor will then have a year and a half to do studies, review designs, gather financing etc. before construction starts in 2018, and that is in the best scenario if there are no complications and delays. It was understood in the deliberation that the investor would have the right to change or modify the project.

"It was always my understanding that the company hired by the Collectivité would hire specialists to carry out the studies on the currents, waves, erosion, impact of dredging on the beaches, impact of hurricanes etc.," said Charville. "That was what most of us understood; surprisingly we hear now that this will be left to the investor."

There was particular concern from residents in Sandy Ground about how dredging and variation of currents will affect the beaches of the district. According to Charville this concern was not properly addressed to give reassurance.

He pointed out that studies that have previously been done are only valid for five years by France and thereafter null and void and will have to be done again.

"Not knowing what the investor is going to do, what concept they will come with, led them to re-think those studies," Charville suggested. "It concerns me that a lot of time and money has been wasted on this. The other side of it is, if the Collectivité is not telling the investor the vision we want for the country, then it becomes the investor's project and not the Collectivité's.

"Secondly, how objective will those studies be if the investor is doing them? It would have to be independent companies, but these details were not mentioned in the deliberation. Most likely the project will be modified, especially if the investor is a major cruise line corporation. Then we don't know if local companies will be involved in construction and if jobs will be created."

Charville and the Opposition were not alone in voicing their concerns, which led them to vote against or abstain. The 23-member Economic, Social and Cultural advisory council CESC, the fourth most important institution of the Collectivité that represents all cross sections of the population, gave a negative advice on the project, citing no mention about impact studies on the environment, creation of employment or preserving heritage. It advised "vigilance" and "questioned the real feasibility of the project."

The Collectivité has retained the option of dredging a channel to 10.5 metres instead of 6.5, albeit at extra cost, to allow for the possibility of larger ships. It was noted that due to demand ships catering to high-end clientele are now being built larger.

Charville questioned why the project could not have been simpler, for example constructing a cruise ship pier only and possibly using the deep water channels that are already in the bay.

Currently, the project calls for a cruise ship pier, a new breakwater, berthing for 94 mega yachts, creation of 21 hectares of landfill to accommodate a five-star hotel, convention centre, high-end apartments for sale and rent, and a new ferry terminal.

With regard to the revitalisation of Marigot, this project has moved from the diagnostic phase realised from November 2014 to March 2015, to the "execution" phase.

Studies focused on the refurbishing of the old historic buildings in Marigot, many of which are closed and in a dilapidated state. Urban architect Jean-Bernard Lamasse from Tropisme presented the conclusions of the study on Thursday.

It was noted that some owners, who have had restoration projects for some time, do not have the money to do up their own properties because of the difficulties in getting loans for local people in the French banking system.

Responding to this question, President Aline Hanson, however, assured that those owners will get financing in the future.

Other aspects of this project include turning some streets into pedestrian-only streets, enhancing side streets, limiting automobile traffic to Rue Général de Gaulle, re-arranging car parking, moving rental car operations out of the centre and to the unused Galis Bay car park.

Although it was understood Semsamar would be financing the Marigot revitalisation project, the lines became blurred when aspects of the project merged with the Bay of Marigot project, and thus who would be financing what.

Charville abstained from voting on the diagnostic phase since he said he and other owners of buildings had not been consulted to give input before it was presented at the Territorial Council meeting.

There is discontent over the Plan Local Urbanisme (PLU), which proposes to take 60 per cent more land for agriculture and only 40 per cent for economic development.

The public has one more chance to give its opinion on the PLU during the public enquiry.

Thursday July 02, 2015 St. Maarten Midday Weather Forecast

rb-lDATE ISSUED:  Thursday July 02, 2015 @ 12:00 Lst (16:00 UTC)

VALID UNTIL:  Friday midday (12:00 Lst) July 03, 2015 

 

WEATHER:
Today through Friday midday: Fair to Partly cloudy, hazy and breezy with a passing shower possible.

 

 

 

Forecast High:   30°C / 86°F          Forecast Low:   25°C / 77°F 

 

Sunrise Tomorrow: 5:41 A.M        Sunset Tonight:  6:52 P.M

SURFACE WINDS:
Today through Friday midday: Easterly with a moderate to fresh breeze of 13 to 20 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

 SYNOPSIS:
The Atlantic high pressure ridge and Saharan dust are the dominant features across the region. As a result moderate to brisk easterly winds, reduced visibility and no significant precipitation could be expected during the next 24 hours.

Seas will remain moderate during the next few days. Small craft operators and sea-bathers should exercise caution.

STATE OF THE SEA: Moderate            WAVES/SWELLS: up to 7 feet 

SPECIAL FEATURES: None.

OUTLOOK through Saturday midday: Fair to partly cloudy, hazy and breezy with no significant precipitation.

FORECASTER: Pierre

The next weather forecast will be issued Today at 18:00 Lst (22:00 UTC).

For further information visit our website: www.meteosxm.com.

 3-DAY FORECAST

 

 DAY

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

WEATHER

Partly Cloudy / Hazy

Partly Cloudy / Hazy

Partly Cloudy / Hazy

HIGH TEMP

30oC / 86oF

30oC / 86oF

30oC / 86oF

LOW TEMP

25oC / 77oF

26oC / 79oF

26oC / 79oF

SUNRISE

05:41 AM

05:41 AM

05:41 AM

SUNSET

06:52 PM

06:52 PM

06:52 PM

 

Five Dutch policemen suspected in death of detained Aruba man

AMSTERDAM--Five Dutch policemen have been suspended and are under investigation over the death by apparent asphyxiation of a Caribbean man after his arrest at a music festival, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The death of Mitch Henriquez (42) from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba sparked riots in The Hague on Monday after videos were posted on the Internet showing him being pinned to the ground by five white male policemen. The circumstances were likened to incidents in the United States that sparked protests over excessive police use of force.

Police initially had said Henriquez, who prosecutors said had been detained after shouting that he had a gun, had become unwell on his way to jail. But videos showed him apparently already unconscious as he was loaded into a police van.

Prosecutor Kitty Nooy told a televised news conference in The Hague that autopsy results showed Henriquez had "very probably" died of asphyxiation. "And it is presumed that this oxygen deprivation is the result of police actions," she said.

Nooy said the autopsy on Henriquez had not turned up any indication of drug use or excessive drinking. It also turned out that Henriquez had no gun, a prosecutor's spokeswoman said.

The five officers involved in Henriquez's arrest have been suspended pending results of an investigation. They have not been arrested. The five, as well as officers who had nothing to do with the arrest, have received death threats.

The Hague's Police Force has been criticised previously by Amnesty International and in a 2013 Dutch TV documentary for targeting foreigners and immigrants disproportionately and with greater use of force. Police have denied racial profiling.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that the investigation into Henriquez's case was insufficient and called for a broader inquiry into discrimination within The Hague Police Force.

The Dutch government has promised Aruba a full and independent investigation into the Henriquez case. Aruba's Minister Plenipotentiary Alfonso Boekhoudt has every confidence in the investigation.

"It is good that some results have already been announced," he said on Wednesday. "The video of the arrest was already pretty indicative. I expect that they will get to the bottom of this."

Boekhoudt also denounced the violence in The Hague over the last two nights. Eleven people were arrested in the Schilderswijk for public violence and vandalism, amongst other things.

"The family has to deal with a loss that cannot be made right. The family disapproves of violence, also when that comes from protestors," he said.

Curacao ties, Aruba loses

cur-cubaPHILIPSBURG--Antigua and Barbuda were stunned by St Lucia in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday, while Patrick Kluivert's Curacao were held and Aruba lost at home.
  The third-highest ranked country involved in the second round of qualifying for Russia 2018, Antigua and Barbuda suffered a setback as they lost the first leg of their tie 3-1 to St Lucia in North Sound.
  The hosts at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium got off to the perfect start when Tevaughn Harriette struck in the 21st minute, but it was all downhill thereafter. St Lucia equalised five minutes later through Tremain Paul and they led just past the hour-mark when David Henry was on target.
  Substitute Troy Greenidge added a third in injury time to give St Lucia a healthy buffer ahead of the second leg at the same venue on Sunday.
  Antigua and Barbuda, ranked 104th in the FIFA standings, are among the best of the 20 teams involved in the second round, ranked lower than only El Salvador (89th) and Guatemala (93rd).
  Former Netherlands assistant Kluivert could not inspire Curacao to victory in Willemstad, as they were held 0-0 by Cuba.
  Forward Gianluca Maria was sent off late for Curacao, ruling him out of Sunday's return leg in Havana.
  Barbados are on track to progress after a 2-0 win over Aruba. Mario Harte and Emmerson Boyce scored for Barbados in Oranjestad, although they finished with 10 men after Akeene Brown was dismissed.
  Brown will miss the second leg at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex in Barbados on Sunday.
  

Emotional re-enactment Diamond Estate escape

page12b039By John van Kerkhof

COLE BAY--“Early Wednesday, around midnight, a group of people identified as runaway slaves, could be seen crossing the road, hurrying up the slopes of Diamond Hill, rapidly vanishing between the trees and bushes. Only the meagre lights of lanterns assisted them on their way. Shortly after, a man on horseback approached, accompanied by two men with hounds. Several gunshots were fired as the men tried to prevent the group from crossing the border between the Dutch and French sides of the island,” thus could have read the first paragraph of a newspaper report on July 1, 1848, on the escape of 26 slaves from Diamond Estate in Cole Bay running to freedom on the French side.

This historic event, known as the Run for Freedom, was re-enacted on this scenario early Wednesday with much passion and enthusiasm by a group of approximately 100 persons, who took on the roles of fleeing Dutch slaves and their freed peers of the French side.

Like the short but perilous journey of the slaves in 1848, when slavery had just been abolished on the French side, but still existed on the Dutch side, the journey of the “runaway slaves” began at midnight at the Caribbean Auto parking lot to usher in Emancipation Day 2015.

The group, costumed in nineteenth-century clothing trekked barefooted or on sandals through the bushes from Diamond Estate to Bellevue.

Coordinator Clara Reyes said this may very well have been the last possibility to organise a re-enactment on this location, as ongoing development in the area may block off access to hillside paths in the future. “Several slave walls here have already disappeared,” she said.

Carrying torches and lanterns to light the way the “slaves” escaping the hardships of plantation life stealthily navigated the bushes to freedom. Due to the dry weather and to reduce the chance of fire, most lanterns were battery-powered this time.

Not only the moon assisted the “runaway slaves” to find their way over rocky paths and “treacherous” tree roots and other obstacles. The re-enactment was also captured on a number of video-cameras, every so often putting the modern-day escapees in bright spotlights.

Nevertheless, the actors and dancers, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs Rita Bourne-Gumbs among them, played their part vividly as they were chased. Tears were shed and wails were heard as the runaways hid and crouched behind hilltops and bushes to stay out of the hands of their ruthless pursuers, who could be heard shouting and cursing as they were searching.

Sweaty, thirsty and breathless, the runaways reached a clearing in Bellevue at a short distance from the Cole Bay/Bellevue border point, where they were welcomed by song and the sound of drums by their freed counterparts. These had also made a somewhat easier journey through the bushes from just outside Marigot.

At the clearing, both groups met and burst out in song, singing of their newly-attained freedom and release from bondage. United, they thanked God for deliverance from the “evil institution of slavery.”

To pulsating drum rhythms, forbidden in the days of slavery, group members not only sang traditional songs, but also danced their hearts out in a rendition of the Ponum dance, as well as in tap dance, as this was another means of expression used by the enslaved.

Poets read verses in remembrance of ancestors who struggled and died for freedom, in which they also reflected on modern-day slavery and injustice.

Run for Freedom was coordinated by Co-director of National Institute of Arts Clara Reyes and President of Conscious Lyrics Foundation Shujah Reiph. In an emotional vote of thanks Reiph showed his gratitude to all persons who took part in Run for Freedom and had shown respect and admiration to the forefathers who had broken the chains of slavery.

This evil should never return, Reiph said, in quoting several verses of “Redemption Song.” An a cappella rendition of this well-known Bob Marley classic closed off the impressive event. Previous re-enactments of the Diamond Estate escape were held in 2005 and 2006.

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