St. Maarten Government takes another step to upgrade Dutch Quarter

POSTED: 06/29/12 12:57 PM

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Vice Prime Minister William Marlin and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs join with officials from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure and the Martin Luther King Jr. School to break ground on the parking lot in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. School.

St. Maarten – The ground breaking ceremonies for the new parking facility for the Martin Luther King Jr. School was said to be a significant and important addition not only to the school but also the Dutch Quarter community. During the ceremonies the teachers were commended for their patience and tolerance.
“So many pairs of shoes were damaged over the years because of the mud that passed through the present area and the school during showers of rain,” head of Public Education Glenderlin Davis-Holiday.
She assures the teachers that when the project is completed it will be much better for them as they enter the school.
“It goes without saying that projects such as these are necessary because as the island continues to develop we must see how we can better our surroundings, making it better and pleasant to be in.”
She noted that public schools are constantly making the necessary adjustments so as to improve the situation of the schools and expressed her gratitude to the newly appointed Minister of Education Silvera Jacobs for ensuring that the project started before the end of the school year since the teachers need not worry when the water begin flowing through the area. Davis-Holiday is aware that there is much to do at the Martin Luther King School and opined that if stakeholders are in constant dialogue and are focused then things will be done. She indicated that the public school system will continue to be the best and stated that most of the prominent citizens were products of this system.
Head of New Works Kurt Ruan said the plan is to construct13 parking spaces, a bus loop so that the buses are able to turn properly and drains. Ruan wants homeowners in the vicinity of the school to cooperate with government so that the drainage of the entire area can be solved.
Former school manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. School and now Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs said that “no longer should the students be treated as second class citizens” since they have gone through enough. She noted that the new government is about inclusion and they as government will ensure that projects such as the development of the Dutch Quarter community and the Martin Luther School comes out of the pipeline since they have been there for a number of years.
The minister also revealed that the school’s sports facilities will be upgraded and covered as part of the “powerful ambitious endeavor”. The project on the A. Th. Illidge Road has already led to less water in the lower classrooms. In reiterating the comments made by Ruan she mentioned that it is obvious that the cooperation by the land owners is necessary to have the drainage completed.
The initiative to build the Martin Luther King School in Dutch Quarter was as a result of “a swap with the Seventh Day Adventist Church which is now built in the Belvedere district” said Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin. He explained that they as government always wanted the school to remain in Dutch Quarter and the reason for moving it from Mount William Hill was because of the overcrowding at the school.
He remembers the hurricanes of 1995, which caused them to put the construction of the school on “the fast track” and as a result they were given the bare minimum of funding from the Dutch government to construct a school. He explained that the school was built in “a gutter” and noted that in this case it there is no proper drainage or a paved parking area one will have to endure what the teachers and the students experienced over the years.
He stressed that some of the students who spent their entire primary school years at the Martin Luther King School had to face “the wrath of the flooding” in the class rooms. He mentioned that the teachers who worked there had to carry along extra shoes so as to have a change when they reached in the class rooms.
He further said that at the end of 2013 there will be a “brand new road in Dutch Quarter with working lights, good drainage sewerage lines that the school will also be hooked up.
“While it may appear that Dutch Quarter was sort of a forgotten area for many years, today, the focus of government is on communities such as Dutch Quarter.
He said that project is not only an upgrade to the school but also to the community. However, “there is still need to twist the arm of the Finance Minister to ease them in to the budget of 2013 to have the project completed.” He said that it is a good thing to be a country so that they could borrow funds to do the things that are needed to be done.
He indicated that in the overall plan it includes a plan for a school from zero to four years that will be built at the entrance of the property. He noted that the cost of sending these children to the “so called play schools” is costing more than sending the children to the Milton Peters College or the St. Maarten Academy. He is aware that because of the high cost of sending the children to these play schools the elder siblings has to take care of the smaller ones.
“This is more than building another parking lot but an entire project that will enhance the community,” Marlin said.

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