Marlin and Heyliger clash over Emilio Wilson Estate

POSTED: 01/17/14 12:42 PM

St. Maarten – The budget debate dragged on yesterday and it offered this time some fireworks that involved the leaders of the National Alliance and the United People’s party, William Marlin and Theo Heyliger who went to war over the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate. “The impression has been created that the purchasing price went up from $10 to $17 million,” Marlin said, referring to the time he was Minister of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, and making clear that this impression is incorrect.

Heyliger waved an agreement dated June 3, 2013 in parliament on Wednesday, in which the government committed to buying the estate for $17 million, suggesting that the price had gone up by $7 million compared to an earlier agreement signed under his responsibility.

But Marlin hit back yesterday. “When I became minister I found an agreement with Rainforest Adventures that was about to expire. When the government indicated that it intended to designate the estate as a national park, owner Henri Brookson said that the deal with Rainforest had not been concluded yet.”

Under the deal with Rainforest, the owners would keep receiving a percentage of the visitors to the adventure park. The government would only buy a small part of the property for $10 million, Marlin pointed out.

“We wanted to buy the entire estate,” Marlin said. “A small part would remain for Brookson to build a home for him and his children, a school for the Ujima-foundation and an agricultural school.”

Behind the present Emilio Wilson Park (that was donated by the park’s name-giver to the government earlier – ed.) the government would maintain a buffer zone with a width of 50 meters towards Brookson’s residential zone. This area of the estate borders on St. John’s Estate. “MP Heyliger said we were going to build 1,200 homes there,” he added. (This remark is due to a typo in our Wednesday report, where the number of 1,200 homes was mentioned; MP Heyliger however mentioned a number of 200 homes – ed.).

UP-leader Heyliger immediately struck back. “Divide and conquer, that is the way of the National Alliance,” he said. “They have always done that. They have never won an election outright, they always had to manipulate and intimidate people in this house.”

MP Heyliger said he has no problem with criticism. “I have only two rules. You leave my mother out of it and you leave my children out of it. I will not stand for that.”

Heyliger corrected Marlin’s statement about the 1,200 homes and pointed again to the June 3, 2013 purchase agreement. “That is when they committed the country to this kind of money. The $5 million down payment would have been lost,” he said referring to the agreement.”


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