St. Maarten and EU sign off on Dutch Quarter upgrade funding

POSTED: 06/26/12 12:38 PM
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and European Union’s ambassador to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dutch overseas countries and territories Robert Kopecky go over the documents in the presence of Kopecky’s attaché ahead of the signing of the 10th European Development Fund. (Leo Brown photo)

St. Maarten – A simple yet significant ceremony on the De Weever property in Dutch Quarter marked the commitment of the 10th European development Fund to the upgrade of the district. The EDF commits €4.75 million to the project, and the government of St. Maarten throws in an additional €1.73 million to give Dutch Quarter, as Vromi Minister William Marlin expressed it, “what it has been promised for years.”

The signing ceremony was attended by Robert Kopecky, the former ambassador for the Czech Republic in Angola and currently the European Union’s ambassador to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dutch overseas countries and territories. Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, Vice PM William Marlin, Public Health Minister Cornelius De Weever, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt and Economic Affairs Minister Romeo Pantophlet were also in attendance, as were the territorial authorizing offers for the EDF in Saba, Statia and Bonaire. The representative for Curacao was absent.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams leads the toast after parties signed for the 10th European Development Fund at the De Weever Estate on Monday. (Leo Brown photo)

The 10th European Development fund brings €24 million (about $31 million) to the islands; of this total, St. Maarten receives €4.75 million ($6.1 million). This money will be used to upgrade the sewage system in Dutch Quarter, to build a 1, 000 cubic meter water tank, to completely renovate the A. T. Illidge Road through the district, to install proper street lights and to create pavements. Project leader Olivia Lake said that St. Maarten contributes €1.73 million ($2.25 million) to complete the work.
“This is where we come to solicit votes,” Vromi Minister William Marlin said in a brief address. “But today we are not here to campaign. Today we bring what has been promised for years.

Dutch Quarter will also get a completely new road. This is not the start of the project though, today we sign off on the funding. When we kick off the project it will be a good moment to invite the population of Dutch Quarter. Towards the end of 2014 it will be a brand new district.”
Kopecky said that he would like to see his title with the many countries extended with the names of St. Maarten, the BES-islands, Curacao and Aruba.
“In the next EDF we will have to unbundle things and approach this per individual island,” he said.

Kopecky noted that there is a distinct difference between the EDFs of 2006 and 2007, which focused on the development of tourism, and this EDF that focuses more on social development.
In that sense, Minister De Weever more than welcomed the project: “There are lots of asocial issues in Dutch Quarter that go hand in hand with poverty,” he said.
Before signing, St. Maarten’s territorial authorizing officer for the EDF, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams noted that the project in Dutch Quarter will benefit about 3, 000 residents.
The work is scheduled to begin in January of next year; in December 2014 it should be completed.

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