PHILIPSBURG--Parliament will eventually need a new home and after hearing a proposal for a whopping US $145 million bullet-proof glass “salt crystal” building on Friday, St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Member of Parliament (MP) Claude Peterson said the World Bank should be approached to fund the venture.
Peterson proposed that design presenter Damien Delano Richardson of Richardson Designs add a hurricane shelter to the expansive design that already includes a bridge to link the building, suggested at the site of the old administration building at Clem Labega Square, to the new one on Pond Island, a “nations express” mall, parking spaces, a plaza, and the “national bus terminal.”
Saying the idea “just popped into his mind” in a sitting of Parliament’s ad hoc committee for the new parliament building, Peterson said he envisions that people could camp out in the shelter/observation area “to witness the hurricane … to see debris flying through the glass” that would make up Richardson’s “salt” tower.
Peterson’s suggestion drew a sharp reaction from National Alliance (NA) MP Christophe Emmanuel. He said the idea to use trust fund money for Richardson’s vision was “disturbing” at a time when numerous people are still roofless and homeless some 16 months after Hurricane Irma. The first priority, he said, must be those who are roofless.
Peterson retorted that money from the trust fund was already allocated for roof repairs.
Peterson was not the only one to suggest Dutch funds for the building. Richardson also gave as options for his “futuristic project” – as described by MP William Marlin (NA) – “the Netherlands Liquidity Fund” and the General Pension Fund APS.
The proposer has calculated that the plaza project will generate some US $26.3 million in revenue annually for Parliament from the retail outlets and other service spaces to be constructed on land spanning the old Post Office, the square and the old administration building.
Richardson, formerly of the Ministry of Infrastructure and current head of the Social Economic Council SER, reached out to the legislature to present his idea which he has dubbed “The Salt Crystal at Parliament Plaza.” The architect has been touting his glass building idea since the mid-2010s.
Parliament has not yet determined where its new building will be constructed and has not made any call for proposals. The ad hoc committee’s role is to determine the needs of Parliament, find a suitable location and eventually financing.
The building discussion was chaired by MP Franklin Meyers (United Democrats).