Cadastre office officially opens

ST. EUSTATIUS–A ceremony to commemorate the official opening of the Cadastre Office at Fort Oranje was held on Monday. A Dutch delegation travelled to St. Eustatius to take part in the ceremony, consisting of Sybilla Dekker, Kadaster NL Head Dorine Burmanje, Frank Tierolff, Ron Icke, Richard Igel, Tom Dijkstra and Ruben Roes, and Riency Holder from Bonaire.

Also present at the event was Island Secretary Koert Kerkhoff and Perla Duinkerk, who represented Commissioner of Cadastre Derrick Simmons. Executive assistant to Commissioner Charles Woodley, Berlushyne van Putten, and former Commissioner Astrid McKenzie-Tatem were also present at the ceremony, moderated by Mercedes Lopes-Spanner.

Duinkerk said a few words on behalf of Commissioner Simmons, who was in the Netherlands. She congratulated the Cadastre on this “wonderful achievement” and wished them much success in the future.

Head of Statia’s Cadastre Cedric Lijfrock extended a “warm welcome to everyone” present, and especially those that had travelled a long distance. “In line with the profound culture of hospitality of the Statia people, I warmly welcome you all from your long journey to be here with us today,” he said.

Lijfrock then gave a brief history and explanation about the office. Before the Emancipation of slavery in 1869, parcels of land were described in so-called “Scabinal Deeds,” which were executed before a court of justice. The concept of Scabinal Deeds, which were prepared by magistrates, dates back to the Middle Ages. Today, notaries do this work.

Scabinal Deeds were of similar form to a modern notarial deed. It was co-signed by the parties involved, by witnesses, and – in case of Dutch Colonies – by the Secretary of the colonial Government, Lijfrock explained.

The registration of the division of inheritances, mortgages, wills, statements of power of attorney, and the sale of slaves also took place by means of Scabinal Deeds. The secretary kept a daily register of executed deeds”. The oldest known Scabinal Deed dates back to 1832.

The Dutch Civil Code was introduced in the Netherlands Antilles on May 1, 1869, and as a result thereof each island established its own Office of Conservator of Mortgages at which the profession of notary was introduced.

“These activities assured that transfers of ownership and establishment of real property rights occurred in accordance with the law. These transfers took place by registering deeds at the appropriate land register. At that time, the land surveyor had few instruments and used only a compass and a measuring chain as tape.

Lijfrock said the daily task of the Conservator of Mortgages is to register all incoming deeds and documents that are presented at the office, such as mortgage deeds, deeds of transfer, and attachments, official reports and other warrants of attachments, as well as their cancelations, names of owners or legal title holders per subject of registration, as well as the registration of deeds related to ships and airplanes.

Lijfrock said that on November 9, 2013, the ball started rolling towards the future integration of Bonaire, Statia and Saba in Kadaster NL with a workshop on Statia. Talks followed in 2015 on Saba and Bonaire, and last year in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Statia’s Cadastre took the first step in looking for a safe place to house and serve the community. “Considering the cost, this was not easy negotiating with the Executive Council, as funds were limited,” he explained. The transition to the Cadastre’s new location was made possible with support from Kadaster NL and the office in Bonaire.

Lijfrock particularly thanked Burmanje, Dijkstra and Holder, who came up with a plan that made the transaction possible. He thanked them all for their “invaluable” contribution.

He thanked a number of persons, former Island Governor Gerald Berkel, former Commissioners Caryle Tearr and Tatem-McKenzie, Commissioner Woodley, the Finance Department and his wife Millicent Lijfrock, and last, but most importantly the community of Statia for allowing the transition from November 2016. Burmanje commended everyone involved.

In 2015, all registers were sent to Bonaire for scanning to start a digitalizing process. This process, funded by Kadaster NL, resumed in November 2016 and continues to the present day.

Source: The Daily Herald