Online petition and protest videos on Youtube and Facebook – Opposition grows against Salt Pond drag racing strip

POSTED: 09/25/12 2:08 PM

St. Maarten – The opposition against the drag racing strip in the Great Salt Pond is gaining momentum. Residents for SXM started an online petition on Sunday that had gathered 135 signatures yesterday afternoon. A video released to Youtube also pleads against the drag racing facility and urges the government to pay more attention to the maintenance of existing sports facilities like the Raoul Illidge and Melford Hazel sports complexes.

Among the early signatories for the petition are what one could call the usual suspects like environmentalists, but we also noted the name of Georges Greaux, to the best of our knowledge the founder of Winair, dance ambassador Nicole de Weever, National Alliance candidate Christopher Emmanuel, filmmaker Laura Bijnsdorp and artist and teacher Tess Verheij.

“The government has started filling an area of the Great Salt Pond described as the North Dijk  in this area which is on the St. Maarten Monument List,” the petitioners introduce their action on the web site “If you are against further destruction of the monument, noise pollution for surrounding areas, wasteful government spending lacking any kind of long term vision and projects that will benefit few but inconvenience far more people,” the initiators ask visitors to the site to sign the petition.

The government has demonstrated to be unable to maintain existing sports facilities, the initiators point out. Instead of building more sports facilities we urge the government to invest in current facilities, starting with the Raoul Illidge Sports complex. “New schools behind it can then make use of the upgraded facilities as well as hundreds of residents that currently use the dilapidated facility.”

George Greaux signed the petition adding the following comment: “I am in favor of a solution to drag racing in St. Maarten that can create some tourism spin offs in the long term. However, I do not agree that hard earned tax payer money is not channeled in the right areas that can have long term positive impact in our daily social lives such as a sport complex maintenance program. Let’s set our priorities straight first, so I say no to the drag strip.”

Another signatory, Wendy Leone, wrote: “The taxpayer money needs to be spent on maintaining and upgrading our existing sports facilities. We really need to invest in our youth, not just the grown-up “kids.” The government has been promising an upgrade of the Raoul Illidge Sports complex for years, maybe even a decade. It really shows that the government has a confused set of values and cannot keep promises.”

Enriquez Roel: “St. Maarten is in dire need of facilities for the youth.  Who needs noisy, polluting, expensive drag races? Nobody. Spend the tax payer money on fixing what you have for the youth of St. Maarten and no on a few rich people that can afford a car to race. Shame on this government if it continues with this abhorrent plan.”
Rob Verschueren also commented that the plan ought to be stopped. “How can such a small group be allowed to destroy thousands of people’s rest. Frans Richardson is the culprit, pushing things his way, ignoring the well-being of many people and destroying their quality of life. “The noise pollution will be bigger than one can imagine. Now already we have to deal with a lot of noise, even from great distances: sirens of police, fire trucks and ambulances, loud sounds from exhausts of motorcycles and quads, loud music from the Carnival Village, the Celebration Palace, the cricket field, Jose Lake sport field and many small bars. All these sounds produce a mere 60 to 100 decibels. Drag race cars create 160 decibels, comparable to a Boeing 747 taking off. This is unacceptable.”

St. Maarten Pride Foundation President Jadira Veen posted this on Facebook: “There are no permits, government has not had a public hearing on this project which will impact communities in the greater Philipsburg area. I can no way see how a hindrance permit can be made for this project in a normal fashion (read: poor dude who makes them will be threatened for sure to create some foolish document) A historic water body is threatened and set up for final destruction, I predict anarchy to set in on SXM. After all, who are we to tell people they are doing something illegal, unlawful and criminal when government is busy doing the same?”

Dance icon Nicole de Weever (in screaming capitals that we’ll spare our readers); “Wake up wake up. I believe in my right to speak up. St. Maarten is my home and I love it but I would not keep my mouth closed. Let me be blacklisted; I believe if you have the voice to be heard you have to speak the truth and to the people that read this today I say: stop turning you head, your children, our children and our future is important. Teach them by your actions to take pride in the environment. The way we treat our island is the way we take pride ourselves. Value yourself. Stop filling in the Salt Pond. We are losing the value of our natural resources. We are raping our beautiful country. Stop it.”

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