Opinion: Cemetery development project

POSTED: 07/29/14 1:01 AM

Honorable Minister Maurice Lake,

It was with great pleasure that I read in the news on Thursday July 10 about the project to repair the cemeteries on the island. Having been involved in the burial insurance business for over 20 years, I got firsthand experience of the cries of the community concerning the deplorable conditions, of what is supposed to be their final resting place. It caused me to delve into this situation and do my own research resulting in my findings that indeed our burial grounds are in deplorable state, and also filled to near capacity.

I conclude that St. Maarten is in need of a new cemetery with proper infrastructure. Consequently, I devised a concept to construct a brand new cemetery which will offer our people a dignified final resting place, which I presented to the minister of Vromi with the request to allocate an identified plot of land for this purpose. After having several meetings with the minister of Vromi concerning the condition of the cemeteries and my project I am content to see that the project to repair the cemeteries is underway. However, this in my opinion will not suffice.

The approval of 99 more vaults to be built in the Cul-De Sac cemetery is by far not a preferable solution for the problem of lack of burial facilities.

Although I am convinced there is a need for more burial space, cutting into the hill takes away even more of the beauty of the Cull de Sac Hill, not to mention the costs involved in excavation.

I have been around the island and inquired for suitable land to allocate as burial ground, which (preferably) doesn’t take away from the scarcity of land on this island. I came across government land, that was declared not suitable to be a residential area and thus with information received from two accredited engineering consultancy firms conclude that this land with some fixtures and safeguarding is perfectly suitable for the construction of a cemetery.

In order for this request for land to be processed in a timely manner I have been working tirelessly with Vromi to move on to the next step in this process. I have even committed to cooperate with part of the financing for the construction of a community center and a basketball court for the people of this area. This request is in essence a win, win situation; for the people, for government and my project.

In closing, I would like to once again applaud the minister for taking the initiative of repairing the cemeteries but take this opportunity to also reiterate the need for more burial space, I look forward to the continued cooperation and approval of the minister of Vromi and Minister of VSA on realizing this much needed project.

Mylene Engel


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