A Journey of a Thousand steps begins with the first few good steps "(the steps need to be in the right order). If the order is incorrect then we need to stand UP and state that we are heading in the wrong direction.
My concern is regarding the sand dunes currently visible on the banks of the Great Salt Pond directly behind the Zoo and the residents of that area.
As a member of UP faction in Parliament, the faction is questioning the reasons why things are done the way they are being done by the sitting Executive Branch of the Sint Maarten Government. Or should we be asking who is really running things here? Are members of Parliament pulling the strings of their appointed Ministers? We have a constitution that states that it is against the law of the land (Chapter 4 article 51 and 56). We all took an oath in the Parliament of this country.
I have great concerns as to what we the UP faction are seeing as blatant disregard for the rules, by the sitting Government. When the Prime Minister and the Vice Prime Minister clearly states in public that they do not know who ordered the transporting of the sand from the harbor to a specific spot on the ring road, one can summarize that we have no Captain at the helm of this ship.
Somebody give the go ahead for the cricket and drag race track to start and now Minister William Marlin called for the project to come to a halt. The mountain of sand is now just sitting there. The UP faction questions: is there any minister in the Cabinet of Ministers that knows anything about what has become the illegal filling of the Great Salt Pond? Somebody has to be held accountable!
How long will these sand dunes (hills/banks) remain in place? This is in clear violation of the "Nuisance Law" this mountain of loose sand is disturbing the wellbeing of the people who reside in the area.
The sand is blowing into their homes during high winds, into their bedrooms, into their food and hampering their breathing. As a medical Doctor, I have to state with great clarity that this is not healthy for the residents of the area. We in this body of Government are our Brothers and Sisters "Keepers." We represent the people of St. Maarten "All the people" not just a few who want to build a cricket field and a drag racing strip. The "Nuisance Law" will again come into play here. The proximity of the drag racing strip hinders the peaceful way of life of the residents in the area. The UP faction is not against a cricket stadium or drag race track; however the locations are not good.
Somebody has filled in a protected area of the Great Salt Pond for a cricket field. Somebody has agreed to allow sand to be dumped behind the zoo for a drag race strip, but nobody seems to know who gave the permission. This is what it is all about; how can somebody go and fill in the pond and put sand aside for race track without the necessary studies and permits being in place?
The roar of engines and cars parking all over their neighborhoods will impact directly the peaceful nature of the surrounding residential areas. For those who don't live in this area it may seem like no big deal, however for those who do, I stand for them and state with great conviction that the UP faction stands united with them against the way these projects are being handled.
Is there going to be dredging of the Great Salt Pond to increase its water capacity when one looks at the illegal filling for a cricket field in a protected area of the pond?
If the dredging is going to take place, what are the studies showing about the effects this is going to have on the overall communities of Sucker Garden, Madam Estate, over the Pond and Philipsburg?
Is the harbor paying for the trucking of the sand separately or is this included in the dredging contract?
Who is paying these truckers; are tax payers' monies being used for special interests projects? I am sure there are other more productive issues at hand like relief for our pensioners!
Why are we not replenishing the beaches with the dredged sand, areas such as Great Bay, Divi and Belair beaches?
Does the Cabinet of Ministers not consider the hotel and time share sectors part of the economy?
Did the Cabinet of Ministers meet with the over 10 churches that are in the vicinity of the soon to be constructed drag strip with respect to the noise that these cars will make?
Has studies been done regarding the amount of noise such events as drag racing makes?
Have the population of these areas been taken into consideration such as the elderly, babies and students of the effect this drag strip will have on them, the impact it will have on their health?
Who will be responsible for any accidents that may take place there seeing that we do not have a trauma center? Is there any policy on vehicle racing?
The UP faction will not stand by quietly and allow a few people to impact the discomfort of the people of St. Maarten. Progressive projects need to be the standard of this Government. Do not push or support projects that will negatively impact the peaceful residence of people who have invested in their homes and community!
As one of two Medical Doctors in the Parliament of our country, I will state that this project in at its current location will do more harm than good. I hope my colleagues will join me and hold hands to defend the needs and the rights of the United People of St. Maarten. If we are going to stand for the right things, we can work together to move this New Country St. Maarten forward. And not just do things for a few special interests. Instead we need to work for all the people of St. Maarten.
Dr. Ruth Douglass
Member of Parliament (MP)