Sint Maarten Prepares for Reconstruction of Sint Maarten Library 

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Sint Maarten – The NRPB is pleased to announce that several pre-demolition activities have commenced in preparation for the reconstruction of the Sint Maarten Library, formerly known as the Philipsburg Jubilee Library. These preliminary steps include issuing several tenders, erecting fencing to section off the location, and ensuring safety once demolition begins. 
 
On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, the NRPB implements the Fostering Resilient Learning Project (FRLP) to address the island’s educational needs after the destruction caused during the 2017 hurricane season. With a budget of $26.7 million, the FRLP aims to restore access to safe learning and cultural spaces while enhancing the resilience of Sint Maarten’s educational system through improved physical and digital infrastructure.

The project focuses on rebuilding the Sint Maarten Library, Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, and Charles Leopold Bell Primary School. Additionally, it will introduce a management information system (MMIS) within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport (ECYS). Key objectives include constructing hurricane-resistant schools with improved wheelchair access, supporting children with special needs and behavioral issues, developing an inclusive educational policy, and creating a community multipurpose center within the rebuilt Sint Maarten Library.

Demolition of the old library building will begin in Q4 2024. Simultaneously, a new facility will be designed. Construction is slated to start in 2025, and re-open in 2027. This initiative represents a significant investment in the future of education, culture, and community resilience in Sint Maarten.

The Sint Maarten Library, known for its adaptability and dedication to preservation, has undergone multiple relocations and transformations throughout its history. Established as the Philipsburg Jubilee Library on November 23, 1923, in honor of Queen Wilhelmina’s silver jubilee, volunteers initially ran it. In the late 1950s or early 1960s, the St. Maarten Cultural Center founded a Dutch children’s library. In 1967, under the guidance of Lieutenant Governor Jappa Beaujon, this library merged with the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, overseen by a new board.

Despite expansion plans as early as 1978, it was not until April 8, 1983, that pioneers Berthilde and Clemmy Carty laid the cornerstone for a new building. The library faced a significant setback in 2017 when hurricanes Irma and Maria severely damaged the building and its contents. Following the disaster, the library downsized its operations.

In celebration of its 95th anniversary in November 2018, a successful radiothon fundraiser, organized by Philipsburg Broadcasting, helped gather funds for a new building. However, by December 2018, the library’s condition necessitated closure due to safety concerns. It reopened in March 2019 on the second floor of the Adolphus Richardson Building on W.A.J. Nisbeth Road, continuing its service to the public.

In June 2022, financing for the rebuilding of the library became available with the signing of the grant agreement for the Fostering Resilient Learning Project.  
 
‘’Site audits will be conducted to assess pre-existing foundational issues, particularly the library grounds’ susceptibility to flooding due to their lower elevation compared to the surrounding gutter. This critical detail will be addressed in the design plans to ensure the new structure is resilient to future natural disasters and adverse weather conditions. ‘’ – Romain Laville, FRLP Project Manager

 

In August 2023, a request for quotation for temporary fencing at the Charles Leopold Bell School and the St. Maarten Library was published through various channels such as the NRPB’s website, social media, and the Daily Herald. Seven companies expressed interest and, following rounds of clarifications and a site visit, six companies submitted their quotations by October 4th, 2023. Garden Boyz B.V. was awarded the contract for fencing, barricading, and clearing the Charles Leopold Bell School and the Sint Maarten Library premises through the competitive procurement process.

“It was a pleasure to work on a project of such historical and cultural significance. A lot of attention was placed on preserving the boundary walls and main building of the Charles   Leopold Bell school during the clearing and fencing due to its historical significance,” said the owner of Garden Boyz B.V,

The reconstruction of the Sint Maarten Library symbolizes a renewed commitment to education, culture, and community resilience, providing citizens with a safe, inclusive, and modern space for learning and cultural enrichment.

The Sint Maarten Library staff and board stated ‘’ We are deeply grateful for the Fostering Resilient Learning Project, which allows the rebuilding of our beloved library. On the foundation of the old Philipsburg Jubilee Library, the new Sint Maarten Library will emerge, enriching the lives of our diverse community. We remain committed to providing valuable reading experiences, tools, and services for all, in a welcoming and equitable environment.’’

‘’Our Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the Fostering Resilient Learning Project (FRLP), which includes the rebuilding of the St. Maarten Library. We are immensely pleased and look forward to the next phase of this project, as well as the other initiatives under the FRLP. By the end of this journey, our community will be able to boast of much-needed infrastructure that will contribute significantly to the development of the educational landscape.’’ Shermina Powell, Secretary General MECYS

‘’We are excited to commence the reconstruction of the Sint Maarten Library, a project that holds immense significance for our community. This initiative not only restores a vital educational and cultural hub but also demonstrates our commitment to building a more resilient and inclusive future for Sint Maarten. We have made significant investments in school reconstruction and related activities, totaling 16,621,296.6 USD under the ERP1 budget activities.

This includes the rebuilding of educational facilities, covering costs associated with relocation, storage solutions, security services, arranging classrooms for exams, and other efforts to ease the burden on stakeholders. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the school boards, the government, and the people of Sint Maarten for their patience and unwavering support throughout this process. We recognize the long duration of these efforts and appreciate the cooperation we’ve received. We look forward to continuing and finalizing all projects under the Trust Fund with the continued support of the Government of Sint Maarten along with the valued stakeholders.’’ – Claret Connor, Director NRPB

A Request for Bids for the reconstruction of the Sister Marie Laurence School was published on November 23, 2023. This project includes the demolition of Sister Marie Laurence School, Charles Leopold Bell School, and the St. Maarten Library. Bids were received on March 15, 2024, and evaluations are ongoing. Once the technical and financial evaluations are complete, the contract will be awarded. 

Additionally, the evaluation process for the design and supervision of works for the Library and Charles Leopold Bell School is nearing completion, with the contract award for these services expected soon.

Through enhanced infrastructure and thoughtful design, the FRLP aims to create a safe and welcoming space that will serve as a cornerstone for learning and cultural enrichment for generations to come.