Government cannot renege on previous deal: Emilio Wilson Foundation shows “great concern”

POSTED: 01/22/14 1:34 PM

St. Maarten – “The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation is following the recent developments regarding the future of the Emilio Wilson Estate with great concern,” the foundation said in a press release yesterday.

Commitments to purchase 370,000 square meters of the Emilio Wilson Estate for the people of St. Maarten” were made by government, namely, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment William Marlin during the Council of Ministers’ press briefing of Wednesday August 1, 2012, the foundation reminded government.

“This commitment to purchase the estate was reaffirmed on a number of occasions most notably so during the budget debate of April 2013. The now former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment William Marlin announced on April 15, 2013, that the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate was a priority for the Ministry of Public Housing and the Environment Marlin also referred to the management agreements for the estate government had prepared in cooperation with local organizations,” the board went on in its press release.

“Government furthermore confirmed to the owners of the Emilio Wilson Estate that an agreement between parties had been reached on the purchase of the estate by government in a letter dated June 3, 2013.

“In addition to the agreements made between government and the owners of the Emilio Wilson Estate contracts between government and a partnership of local natural and cultural heritage organizations regarding the establishment of the Emilio Wilson Estate as a national park and the subsequent management of the estate upon government obtaining ownership were also prepared and finalized accordingly in April and May of 2013,” the foundation explained.

“Based on the above the foundation can only conclude that commitments and agreements have been made which government cannot simply ignore without legal consequences.

The board went on to say that it is “astounded by reports in the local media that government has commenced negotiations with a third party, the Harbour Group of Companies, for the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate,” and wants to ask the following questions to government:

  • What are the intentions of Minister Lake and MP Heyliger in pursuing the purchase of the estate through the harbor group of companies?
  • Will the Harbour Group of companies buy the Emilio Wilson Estate for the people of Sint Maarten?
  • Will government and/ or the harbor group of companies honor management agreements made between government and several local natural and cultural heritage organizations?
  • Or will government break their commitment to purchase the estate for the people of Sint Maarten?
  • Will government and the Harbour Group of Companies choose to hand the Emilio Wilson Estate, Sint Maarten’s heritage, over to the influential Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCAA), their member Carnival Cruise Lines, and partner Rain Forest Adventures or a similar business to do with the estate as they please?

“The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation is monitoring the developments surrounding the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate closely and if needed will pursue all available legal means and measures necessary to compel government to meet its contractual obligations,” the foundation warned.

“The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation will continue to advocate and strive for the protection and establishment of the entire Emilio Wilson Estate as a national park and protected area managed by and for the people of Sint Maarten,” the foundation concluded in its press release.

 

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