MARIGOT–The Collectivité has offered to relocate the ten Auberge de Mer businesses to the southern side of Marina Royale, in the car park adjacent to the former tourism office building, housing them in prefabricated structures on the Lagoon side alongside the docks.
Businesses must move out as the entire Auberge de Mer building is due to be demolished. A more detailed plan will be communicated to the businesses by the end of November.
This was the main proposal offered during a meeting late Monday afternoon between the businesses and President Gibbs’ Cabinet Director Hervé Dorvil and Director of the Collectivité’s Sustainable Development Department Romain Perreau,
The meeting offered an opportunity for the businesses to present their concerns and arguments. They have received notice to vacate the building within two months as the building was deemed unsafe and already in weakened state before Hurricane Irma, according to experts hired by the Collectivité.
The Collectivité has chosen to terminate the public service delegation (DSP) with SEMSAMAR and its affiliate SAMAGEST on December 31, permitting the Collectivité to plan the future of the marina.
A new construction project from Port la Royale marina to the tourism office roundabout, will be part of a future public service delegation with a new operator. Marina and services are planned in this area for completion in two to three years.
President Gibbs told IOTV on the Auberge de Mer subject that Collectivité could not leave the businesses in a bad situation and risk lives. He therefore did not wish to take the risk and issued the endangerment order to preserve the safety of those businesses. The President had already indicated he wants to find operating solutions for the businesses.
At least two of the affected businesses told this newspaper the two-and-a half hour meeting offered no real solutions for them. It was envisaged the temporary structures would be used for about three years until permanent locations are found.
“My shop is 50 square metres, 12 metres of which is windows which I need to display what I have,” explained Jacques Wachter of the home décor shop Antipodes. “How is this going to work for me putting me in an 11-square metre box? What about security and what about insurance? It’s really unsatisfactory for me. They say they are not going to put a gun to our heads to leave, but we will have to leave at a certain point.”
Wachter said he wished the Collectivité could offer him compensation instead, but that has been ruled out. While the law is the law, the businesses still have the option of trying to block the process through the administrative court.
“I am waiting to speak to the other businesses to see where we go from here,” he added.
Commented Sébastien Brismeur of SXM Marine Diesel: “The Collectivité says it wants to work with us for solutions, but the reality is there are no options. I for one use every metre of the 150 square metres for my business and I have close to a million euros of tools and spare parts.
“But for me they proposed using the tourism office building which would work, but I’m not sure yet if that is a definite offer. They said we would have first options on a new building, but they don’t see anything starting until 2021. And what about the restaurants and bars? How can they work out of these containers?”
Brismeur said he is moving ahead on behalf of the businesses with a lawyer and experts to contest the Collectivité’s decisions.
“We’re going to produce independent counter surveys to show that the building needs maintenance, yes, but to say the building is about to collapse and our lives are in danger is a flat-out lie.”
The Collectivité in its statement after the meeting said it “wanted to listen to these professionals who have been working on the marina for many years and contribute to its success. A direct and transparent exchange has been initiated. The Collectivité is attentive to each situation and will work with them in the ongoing dialogue on this issue.”