Binkie Van Es envisions eco-theme park at Little Bay, St. Maarten

POSTED: 12/11/13 6:33 PM

St. Maarten – Binkie van Es, a fervent birdwatcher and photographer, is the initiator of a plan to save Little Bay Pond and to create an eco-friendly attraction on the site that will leave the rich birdlife in the pond untouched. “We are putting together an investment plan right now,” Van Es told this newspaper. “Including the purchase price of $7.9 million I expect that we need between $10 and $11 million. I am convinced that this project is feasible.”

Yesterday Today reported about the pending sale of the property of 4.5 acres in Little Bay; it includes Little Bay Pond, but not the Belair Hotel. Because Peter Mazereeuw share the initiative on Facebook, the initial impression was that he is the driving force behind the rescue plan. Van Es: “I was amazed to see this so fast in your newspaper. I came up with the idea on Friday. Peter supports it.”

Already on Sunday, Van Es was swapping ideas with a certified public accountant about a business plan. “It has to be a commercial plan,” he says. “Nobody is going to put down that kind of money just so that the area will remain as it is.”

The property in Little Bay has a beachfront. Van Es visions a small-scale theme park with a couple of eco-lodges, a restaurant and an educational center. “Not too big,” he assures. “It could be a tropical forest style park and there will also be space for offices for organizations like the Pride Foundation, the Nature Foundation, Epic and Simarc. The Butterfly Farm wants to move from the French side, and this would be an ideal location for it.”

Van Es is concerned about the preservation of Little Bay Pond, given the fact that the Dutch side of the island once had 19 ponds and that there are now just six left. “Given the price, I do not think this property will be sold in the next couple of days,” he says. “What matters now is finding investors. I am thinking about making a presentation to the Rotary for instance and see if there are any investors there.”

Van Es’ rapid response to Tendal Real Estate’s for sale sign is furthermore driven by the awareness that there is no zoning plan for the property yet. “Anybody could do anything there at the moment. There are no laws in place to stop that, and this is one of the most important birding areas on the island.”

 

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