St. Maarten Parliament meeting aborted due to lack of quorum in second round

POSTED: 01/17/12 1:03 PM

Minister Heyliger listens to MPs, seconded by his secretary General Louis Brown (r).

St. Maarten – Politicians from both sides of the aisle addresses infrastructural and environmental issues from midges and sewage to the causeway, the ring road and the garbage dump yesterday afternoon in a meeting of Parliament with Vromi-minister Theo Heyliger. But when the minister was ready to answer questions from the first round after a scheduled one-hour break, there was no quorum and Parliament President Arrindell was forced to adjourn the meeting until further notice.

The meeting was attended by environmentalists like Rueben Thompson and Jadira Veen.
National Alliance MP Louie Laveist attacked the derelict ring road in the Great Salt Pond, saying imagination.” He asked when the “so-called ring road” will be completed and what the total costs are.
Laveist also made a remark about “dead water” around the pond as a breeding ground for midges. He called the situation embarrassing. He also wanted to know how people could qualify for obtaining a plot of the land that has been created in the pond.
The causeway across the Simpson Bay lagoon, Laveist said, is permanently going to deface the lagoon. “I have the impression that the traffic chaos of the past months has been deliberately created to make space for the bridge over the lagoon.”
His fellow-faction member George Pantophlet posed similar questions about the ring road and the land, and he also asked for an update about the plans for a waste-to-energy plant. Further, Pantophlet asked what is done with garbage from the cruise ships and lastly he asked, “Plastic bags; why are we still allowing them?”

Environmentalists Rueben Thompson and Jadira Veen waited in vain for answers by Minister Heyliger to parliament yesterday.

Hyacinth Richardson also criticized the unfinished ring road project. “I feel like taking all that sand and dumping it at Theo’s house.”
NA-leader William Marlin noted that “seeking out new projects and then move on seems to be a trademark of this minister,” adding that such projects ought to go hand in hand with proper maintenance. The causeway, neatly dubbed “the so-called bridge to nowhere” also drew Marlin’s attention. “It started at $29 million and then it climbed to $39 million. By the time this meeting is over it will probably cost 49 or 59 million,” he said. “How will this be paid for? There is much talk about it, but the Parliament does not know anything.”
Marlin blasted the state of the road network (“Every road on the island is one pothole after the other”) and referred to the 2007 Island council resolution to protect the Emilio Wilson Estate. “There is an ongoing battle between the owner and the government to develop the area. T appears that the government is deeply involved with a cruise line to develop an adventure park. We want to know if this is the case, and how involved the minister is.”
DP MP Leroy de Weever pointedly remarked that the National alliance was part of the Executive council (with minister Heyliger) that approved dumping sand for the ring road in the great salt Pond. De Weever also said that the great salt Pond through the ring road) and the Fresh Pond through the expansion of the waste water treatment plant) have both been destroyed and that it is now the turn for the Simpson Bay Lagoon with the plans for the causeway. “These are great Dutch ideas,” he said, “But the causeway will destroy the last bit of inland water we have. And what is going to happen to great Bay if the wastewater treatment plant malfunctions?”
De Weever further criticized the development of retail in remote locations and the harbor’s plans to create a Dutch village. “That puts a tremendous strain on retailers in downtown Philipsburg,” he said.

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