ECYS Minister Rodolphe Samuel addressing MPs.
~ 50 buildings, ruins on Monument List ~
PHILIPSBURG–The Protected Monument List/Register will be revisited this year, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel told Members of Parliament (MPs) during the continuation of a public meeting on the Monument Council and the Monument Fund on Thursday.
Samuel said there are 50 buildings and ruins included on the Monument List. He explained, however, that not every building or ruin is listed on the protected list. “It was either that the properties were hidden at the time or destroyed,” he said, adding that the Protected Monument List/Register will be revisited in 2023.
In response to a question on the bottlenecks that the Monument Council may be experiencing from operating optimally, Samuel said in May 2019, the Monument Council submitted two letters to government with recommendations to strengthen policies towards monument preservation. The first letter brought forth the need for the Monument Fund to be established to help owners following the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The total budget of the Monument Fund was 212,500 Netherlands Antillean guilders in 2022. This amount has now been reduced to around NAf. 62,000 for the year 2023. The total amount needed for a fund to function optimally is at least NAf. 250,000 which includes a director and staff, the renting or owning of a facility and subsidising or loaning of funds. This amount does not include the financial needs for a monument care agency as that is a separate entity. He said monument preservation is threefold and without the fund, protection is not viable.
The second letter recommended a national archaeologist, after the then incumbent one retired. The letter also indicated that in the current composition of the council, there was no architectural or legal expertise, which delays the work of the council.
The minister was asked when and why the Monument Council had been created and what had led to the decision to establish it. Samuel said the Monument Council had been in existence since 2014. It was established because this is a requirement of the Monument Ordinance. The current council has been in place since 2019.
The council consists of a minimum of five and a maximum of nine members with the positions of chairman, secretary, treasurer and other members. The minister appoints the chairman of the council. The council determines which member receives the position of secretary and treasurer.
The members of the board are appointed for a period of four years. A member of the board can be reappointed. The members of the board receive a fee of NAf. 75 per hour for their work in the board, with a maximum of NAf. 2,000 per month, with the understanding that only the actual meeting times, as well as an increment of one hour per meeting for the preparation of documents, will be billed.
The Monument Council is an independent advisory body that is responsible for providing the minister of ECYS with solicited or unsolicited advice on matters related to monuments. The council advises the minister and Parliament. The council also works together with the Culture Department within the ECYS Ministry, which is charged with reparatory and advisory work with regard to policy and regulations regarding monument preservation.
The budget of the Monument Council is NAf. 45,000.
In response to a question on the status of the Monument Fund, he said: “The bidding process for the establishment of the Monument Fund began in July 2022 and the deadline for submissions was August 2022. The project had to be restarted due to the first one being compromised. One of the envelopes was opened by someone outside of the committee and the Department of Culture prior to the sessions taking place. This phase was halted, and the project was restarted by the Department of Culture.”
Samuel explained that the Department of Culture will be making use of a more user-friendly digital platform that was previously used by other departments within the ministry. This platform will reduce the possibilities of errors in both submissions and scoring. The second Terms of Reference (TOR) was submitted by the Department of Culture for approval in October 2022 and funds had to be redirected for this process.
Asked what the connection is between the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI and ECYS as it relates to Monument Care and how the ministries can work together more effectively moving forward, Samuel said the Department of Culture is usually contacted by VROMI once a building permit has been requested for a property that may either be a protected monument or one that may be of historical significance.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/protected-monument-list-to-be-revisited-this-year