Mary’s Fancy Home Owners Association objects to drag racing strip and cricket stadium – Protest against noise and monument destruction

POSTED: 10/9/12 1:10 PM

St. Maarten – The Mary’s Fancy Home Owners Association has urged the Council of Ministers to take appropriate measures towards the removal of illegally dumped sand in the Great Salt Pond and to restore the affected areas. The association objects to the location that has been chosen for the construction of a cricket stadium and a drag racing strip.
The association states in its letter to the Council of Ministers that it has no problem with the cricket stadium and the drag racing strip as such, but it opposes the location and the effect of the projects on the Great Salt Pond.
“The location of the drag racing strip is in too close proximity to a number of residential areas, including Mary’s Fancy Estate,” the letter states. “Noise pollution is amplified by the surrounding hills and will carry the noise to districts that are further away.”
The association notes that the noise levels will most likely exceed the limits set in a 2007 government report about environmental standards.
“Many neighborhoods will have to live with the extreme noise that this race sport is going to produce, therefore affecting their peaceful rest and overall quality of life. This definitely will result in stress and other related health issues, with all the consequences for the economy of St. Maarten as the labor force will see a spike in sickness-related absenteeism.”
The noise is not the only aspect of these projects that bothers the home owners association. It also points out that the Great Salt Pond was designated as a monument in 2009. “The construction of the cricket stadium will destroy a large portion of this national monument,” the letter to the Council of Ministers states. “Our foundation is of the opinion that an undesirable precedent would be set if government destroys an area that has been identified and designated as a national monument based on its cultural and historical significance.”

Like the Pride Foundation, the home owners association also point to the pond’s retention capacity. “The entire Great Salt Pond serves as a natural cache for much of the run-off water from surrounding hills. Government-commissioned reports have advised the government to expand the island’s rain water storage capacity. Even partially filling in the Great Salt Pond will significantly reduce water storage capacity. It is likely to have drastic consequences for the surrounding areas as excess run-off water will lead to additional flooding of the already overburdened districts adjacent to the pond.”
The home owners association also questions the fact that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has not taken any action to put a stop to the illegal filling-in of the Great Salt Pond. “The Public Prosecutor’s office duty is to prosecute those that have been suspected to have broken the law in the name of the people,” the association wrote in a press release.

Chief Prosecutor mr. Hans Mos acknowledged yesterday that the responsible ministry has to make sure that if sand is dumped in the pond, this happens on the basis of a permit. “For us to act a crime must have been committed,” the prosecutor said. “If someone thinks this is the case it ought to be reported to our office and then we will investigate.”
Mos said that filling in the pond without a permit could result in problems with administrative law – in which case citizens could file summary proceedings to order a stop to the work. It is not immediately clear whether illegally filling-in the pond amounts to a crime.

The Mary’s Fancy Home Owners Association urges residents in the immediate vicinity of the project-locations, neighborhood councils and nature foundations to make their concerns heard by sending objection letters to the Council of Ministers as soon as possible, The association sent copies of its letter to Governor Holiday and to the office of the Ombudsman.

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