MP Richardson renews call to protect Emilio Wilson Estate

POSTED: 03/21/12 1:32 PM

GREAT BAY – Independent MP Frans Richardson announced motions to ban the use of plastic grocery bags, to protect Mullet Pond and to respect a 2007 Island Council decision to protect the Emilio Wilson Estate. Richardson made the announcements in the first round of the budget debate yesterday morning.
“We made a decision to protect the Emilio Wilson Estate, but today we see a change of plan,” he said.
Richardson reacted to media reports about plans for the establishment of a rainforest attraction park on a part of the estate. Vromi-minister Theo Heyliger confirmed to this newspaper on Monday that the permits for this project have been granted and that negotiations about buying part of the estate for this project from the current owners (Henri Brookson and the Paas family) are nearly complete. Minister Heyliger said that part of the rainforest revenue will go towards maintaining the Emilio Wilson Park.
“Let’s buy the Emilio Wilson Estate,” Richardson said yesterday.
“If we need to float another bond for it, let’s do it.”
Referring to the Island Council decision to protect the estate and to put it on the monument list, Richardson said that he voted in favor of it and that now his decision is no longer respected. “Now we have a rain forest coming; well, I hope it will rain every day there. This is unbelievable. We took the decision to protect the estate and now we are going to build a rain forest attraction park. Why are we not protecting what is important to our people? I am so hurt about what they want to develop there. This means that we lied to the people when we said we would protect it.”
Richardson called on parliament to support his motion.
“Let’s see who really loves St. Maarten,” he concluded.
Earlier in his address, Richardson said that he is concerned the draft budget does not address “the most urgent needs like poverty reduction, fiscal discipline and good governance practices.
“We are already spending beyond our means.”
Richardson noted that the condo-tax Finance Minister Shigemoto aims to collect is not 21 million guilders.
“Seventeen million is a more likely number, so we already have a gap of 4 million guilders.”
Richardson referred to a letter to the editor by a foreign condo-owner who complained about a tax rip off and about the way he was approached by the tax office.
“There is already a ripple effect; he told friends in the States not to buy a condo here.”
Richardson expressed doubts about the Finance Minister’s ability to collect these condo-taxes. “How does the minister intend to collect that money? How much has been collected already and how are the assessments done?”
Last night UP-MP Johan Leonard announced a motion to ban plastic grocery bags. This increases the likelihood that parliament will act to ban plastic grocery bags from supermarkets.

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