Ocean’s Building manager expresses concerns: “The beach is not a parking lot”POSTED: 07/21/15 6:40 PM
Ankie Nieuwenhoven on the beach next to several cars parked on the beach in the back of the Ocean’s Building. Photo Today / Andrew Dick
St. Maarten – Property Manager Ankie Nieuwenhoven of Ocean’s Building on Front Street has concerns about the proposed parking lot to cater to visitors of the Walter Plantz Square set to open next month.
Nieuwenhoven told this newspaper that the parking in the already congested area will cause harm to visitors who come to Great Bay for the beach. People already park in front of the square, causing visitors not to use the beach. “Three weeks ago, I noticed that they were parking on the beach, I contacted Vromi and the contractors working on the project if there is a temporary permit to allow visitors to park on the beach. Nobody could answer, not Vromi and not the contractors. No ad or notice was given to the residents.”
Nieuwenhoven went on to send a letter on June 29 to Minister of Vromi Marcel Gumbs asking for clarity about the temporary parking lot and if all procedures were followed by the contractors and the Vromi department. Two weeks later there was no word yet from the government. She went to the Government Administration building yesterday however the system was down, employees told her.
“The project is a great project, don’t get me wrong, but all of a sudden Great Bay beach is a parking lot. I would really like to know the status of parking on the beach. We have nine apartments here and we have guests that complain all the time about not wanting to sit in a parking lot. They came here for the sun, sea and beach.”
“All beaches are public. “Parking is a different story unless I am told differently. Drivers enter the Sonesta Great Bay parking lot and drive straight down on the beach until they get close to the Walter Plantz Pier and park alongside the beach. This has been going on for some time now. It’s like a highway and it’s turtle season. I have informed the Nature Foundation to look into the matter also.”
This newspaper contacted the harbor for clarification but in vain. Nieuwenhoven will contact the Ombudsman if need be to get answers from the relevant authorities. The harbor group expects to open the pier next month and has started the campaign for the opening with full page ads with the text “Watch out for Walter.”
Ocean’s Building located on 167 Front Street caters to tourist all year round, offering timeshare and rental of apartments. “All I want is clarity, this will allow us as business in the area to be prepared but it should not be that the harbor gets to just make a parking lot on the beach without any permits from Vromi,” Nieuwenhoven said.