Opinion: Not chic

POSTED: 11/16/11 4:15 AM

Rain Forest Adventure St. Maarten N.V. put environmentalists on high alert when it published a vacancy ad for a general manager in the newspapers yesterday.
That’s understandable, because the construction of a rain forest attraction park in the Emilio Wilson Estate seemed to be far from a done deal.
There has been no public debate about the plan, the plans have not been put up for public review and there has been no mention of environmental, cultural and social impact assessments.
The Emilio Wilson Estate is on the Monument list. It is therefore a protected area, but apparently that does not stop local authorities from giving the green light for a project that will change the estate forever.
The estate’s owner, Henri Brookson, wants to finally get some mileage out of the place after he acquired it in 2008. But environmentalists say that Brookson bought a protected area and that he is not free to do there whatever he wants.
In the past, plans to build 200 homes on the estate have died in a quagmire of court cases and civil protests. Now the rain forest attraction park seems to become the focus of a new battle for the Emilio Wilson Estate.
If decisions are taken in a proper manner, after all procedures have been followed, and all stakeholders have had the opportune it to voice their opinion, the inevitable will probably happen. That’s how the world works. But to keep plans of this magnitude in the shadows and out of the public eye for as long as possible is, to say the least, not chic.

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