No shortage of issues at Committee meeting

“Not the original design,” historian Walter Hellebrand (left) tells Commissioners Derrick Simmons (centre) and Charles Woodley (right) and members of the Central Committee about Statia’s coat of arms.


ST. EUSTATIUS–The Central Committee of the Island Council St. Eustatius serves as a platform to discuss issues awaiting approval by the Island Council. This week’s meeting was neither short of issues or news.

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  Early childhood development was raised by Education Commissioner Derek Simmons in response to a need for quality inspection within the day care sector.

  The Committee was informed that whereas there was only one official day care centre on the island, a number of private and home-based centres had been set up, hence the need for a policy of inspection and regulation.

  The policy calls for an inspector to visit day care centre to provide guidelines and permits. To this end, it is proposed that the inspector will work closely with a designated Quality Committee. Inspection, which is to involve “paying close attention to the appearance and behaviour of children.”

  Director of Social Welfare Carol Jack and Unite Manager Cherida Creebsburg underlined the importance of such a policy. They pointed out that their immediate interest were those centres catering to more than six children.

  Leader of Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Clyde van Putten. “It is only a matter of time before we have something go wrong in one of these places and then it will be too late,” he said.

  The Councilman referred to a recent article in The Daily Herald concerning the United Nation’s Rights of the Child.

  “Investment in our children is the best investment we can make. The Government should do everything in its power to assist and protect their welfare and education,” said Van Putten.

  A proposal to amend the cost of building permits was presented by Siem Dijkshoorn.

  Commissioner Charles Woodley informed the committee that this proposal calls for lower fees and a more meaningful way to calculate these.

  “We compared prices in The Netherlands and elsewhere to arrive at a more simplified approach. The new fees will reduce building cost and encourage greater building development on the island,” he stated.

  Previous attempts to present the proposals to the Committee were objected to by Koos Sneek of Democratic Party (DP) for lack of clarity. However, the latest and revised version was generally accepted and will be submitted for approval at the next Island Council meeting.

  Committee business then moved on to the announcement of the luxury hotel and residential development at Gayeau Estate.

  Various environmental and archaeological studies are in progress as part of the planning process. A public meeting will be held in mid-March to consider any objections. Also needed is a change to the Spatial Development Plan.

  “These studies are important,” commented Committee Chairman Reuben Merkman. “We must consider all facts.”

  A new agenda point was added at Van Putten’s request to discuss a change to St. Eustatius’ coat of arms that was never authorized by the Island Council.

  The designer of the coat of arms local historian Walter Hellebrand had been asked to explain the course of events that led to this change.

  The Committee members unanimously expressed their dismay at this interference with one of the island’s national symbols. Hellebrand has been asked to advise on how to get the original design reinstated.

Source: The Daily Herald