POND ISLAND–The board of Philipsburg Jubilee Library is working on a design for a new library building on Vogesstraat, according to Education Minister Wycliffe Smith, who also pointed out that the board is “totally” in control of the library’s management and operations, not government.
The library board is working with an architect to design what is expected to be a new US $12.5 million building. It is possible the new location will also see the housing of St. Maarten Museum and St. Maarten Archaeological Centre Simarc based on an existing memorandum of understanding focused on the institutions working together.
The country’s only public library closed its doors on December 10 until further notice. The reason for the closure is the severe hurricane damage to the building. Both the Labour and Fire Departments have deemed the building unsafe for continued use.
It is expected library services will resume in the coming months, but from container buildings to be supplied by government. Smith said the containers had been offered to the library board by his ministry as well as the Ministry of Social Development VSA. The containers will be placed at the library’s current location.
The library receives a NAf. 1.9 million subsidy from government annually for its operations. The building is insured together with other government-owned and -rented properties. The building is insured for NAf. 1.4 million and NAf. 664,000 for the contents.
Following Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the library board claimed the building had been “totally destroyed,” said Smith. However, an assessment put the building damage at NAf. 551,707. Government believes that assessment is “too low” and will seek to get the building amount increased and get more to cover the library contents.
Smith faced heavy criticism about the library closing its doors under his watch. The library had sought an alternate location for its operations, but this was rejected by government, much to the chagrin of some in the community.
Smith explained in the Council of Ministers press briefing that the rejection was based on the hefty rent for the alternate location. The library sought to rent a space in Philipsburg for some NAf. 29,700 per month. Smith said the board had no timeline of how long the space would be needed. The fear was, he said, that all of the insurance pay-out funds would drain away in rent.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/83576-library-board-working-on-new-building-design