Van Putten says Government has ambitious plans for 2018

Clyde van Putten

ST. EUSTATIUS–The Island Government’s plans for St. Eustatius in 2018 are “numerous and ambitious,” according to leader of coalition partner Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Clyde van Putten.

  Long-awaited road improvements will involve resurfacing Van Tonningenweg that links the harbour in Lower Town to Upper Town.

  “Heavy container traffic has clearly left its mark on road quality. The container facility will be slightly relocated to accommodate greater storage and improve efficiency. We would also like to see more locals employed in the area, and we shall be looking towards developing training to achieve that end,” the Island Councilman said.

  “Lower Town has certainly become the island’s calling card regarding the development of hotel, restaurant, and dive and ferry businesses there. We intend to conserve the tourist character of the ‘Strip,’” he said.

  Similar road work will start soon on Mansionweg and Korthalsweg leading to Berkel’s Plantation.

  The current airport terminal building is to get a major upgrade within short, which will include the extension of the departure hall. A new tower is also expected to be built during the course of this year, Van Putten said.

  There are ongoing negotiations with a number of airline companies, including a local to be established airline company that would help to enhance airlift to and from Statia.

  He said the Island Government is not happy with the recent loss of connectivity with St. Maarten, as it has impacted air transport between the two islands.

  “Revenues are clearly down, and we are convinced that the airport could serve as a modest yet successful hub to neighbouring destinations,” Van Putten stated.

  “The ‘Historical Gem’ is a fascinating destination with its natural beauty, trails, history and unique monuments. Hotel accommodation is expanding with the launch of Orange Bay Hotel on Lower Town and the development of Gayeau Hotel and residential complex with a new yacht marina opposite Knippenga, close to the botanical gardens.”

  Tourism Commissioner Derrick Simmons will be having discussions with Florida Caribbean Cruise Association to promote the island as a port of call for smaller cruise ships.

  “Statia is a niche tourist attraction and has a great appeal for those short-term visitors who recognize the value of our heritage,” said Van Putten.

  Changes are also planned for 35 of the 70 existing social housing units on Statia. “Tenants will be given the opportunity to buy their own house. We are already discussing this option with financial institutions. For tenants it is only an option and the purchase terms have to be attractive,” he said.

  New accommodation for local Government offices is also in the pipeline. “Having different locations for government services as we now have is not very communicative and is very expensive. We shall be announcing our plans for the new arrangements as soon as possible,” Van Putten said.

  Van Putten is also upbeat where constitutional change is concerned. He said the Island Government has met with its constitutional lawyers to update them regarding their quest for more autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom.

  “We may still be in touch with the Dutch, but we need to determine our own path based on the present and future, not the past. Local government is working hard to build a bright future for the whole island and its people. Green shoots are everywhere, and this year promises to be very exciting,” concluded Van Putten.

Source: The Daily Herald