Cul de Sac, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake has sent a letter to Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Angel Meyers, via the President of Parliament seeking an update about plans for Emilio Wilson Estate.
“The Estate is of invaluable natural, cultural, historical and social significance. It is the people’s patrimony and estate. As an MP, I want to know if the entire estate that Government purchased for the people was given to Rain Forest Adventures, and if Government finalized the agreement with the other landowner Mr. Henry Brookson,” Lake said.
“As the former Minister of VROMI, I was the one to purchase the Emilio Wilson Estate for the people of St. Maarten. I can remember in the Council of Ministers meeting in which I was part of, we made a decision to let the Gumbs Cabinet develop a plan for the estate where all stakeholders can give input to develop our natural, cultural, historical and social heritage of the estate,” Lake said.
Lake recommended at that time that local agriculturists plant on the estate, especially guava berry, fruits, and opportunities should be created to educate the young people of the importance of planting natural foods and eating healthy.
“Why the zoo and local museum can’t be part of the estate where it can be an educational and recreational park for the people and tourist visiting St. Maarten. I also understand the plans of Rainforest Adventures which is using part of the estate which will bring sustainable tourism, but it has to complement the local cultural and heritage projects of our local stakeholders along with Mr. Henry Brookson’s project,” said Lake.
Rain Forest Adventures has to contribute to the economy by giving a percentage of their revenue back to the community, the MP said.
MP Lake was very surprised when former Marcel Gumbs-led Cabinet gave the property in long lease to Rainforest Adventures.
“This was very bothering to me as being part of the UP-led Coalition. The majority of the former Coalition members didn’t know about the change of plans of this project,” he said.
The developer has to pay for the long lease NAf.1.20 per square meter. “Rainforest Adventure got a steal of a deal,” the MP said.
“I want to know why the former Marcel Gumbs-led Cabinet changed the plans for that Estate, the Landfill, the Vorst property, the garbage contracts, the Chamber of Commerce Economic Centre, the Prison, Kimsha beach and the joint sewage plant.” Lake said.
“We need to be open, transparent with the people’s business and get back to basics by putting our local people first. We can’t continue keeping everything in the dark and giving away everything to others without empowering our own local people and local landowners,” MP Lake pointed out.
MP Lake hopes Meyers, who has St. Maarten’s natural and cultural heritage at heart, will make an effort to shed some light on the project. He advised Meyers to sit with Rainforest Adventures to get more information.
“Rainforest Adventures needs the guidance and support of all stakeholders to make this project a success and to let them tell the cultural and natural history of St. Maarten,” MP Lake said.
The MP concluded that Government also has to sit with Brookson about the existing agreement to provide a road to his property.