The monumental part of Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House.
PHILIPSBURG--Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel says it would be a “crying shame” if government allowed Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House, a recognised monument on Front Street, to be sold without even an attempt from government to save it.
Emmanuel said recently that the property is scheduled to be auctioned around December 10, but the initiators of the auction are willing to dialogue with government and debtors to arrange a payment plan of sorts if government is willing to initiate the dialogue. The issue is important enough, Emmanuel said, that he even offered to provide the contact information to Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel.
Rear view with hurricane-damaged wing at left
“It would be a crying shame if this minister knows that Pasanggrahan, a recognised monument by the government of St. Maarten, is up for sale and has done nothing about it – no dialogue, no meeting with owners whatever. To do nothing would be a crying shame,” Emmanuel said in a press statement on Sunday.
In this context, he also asked Samuel what his definition of a monument is. “Because it is impossible that things like this can happen, using an ordinance that obviously needs re-visiting. These things make no sense,” Emmanuel said, further questioning for what exactly the US $30 million reserved from the World Bank funds for monuments is supposed to be used.
“This same minister voted in favour of the World Bank and its money that we have yet to see. Will the minister now admit it was a farce?”
In fact, after seeking help from government by requesting a monument permit, the owner of Pasanggrahan was informed by the minister on December 4 that “government does not get involved in the determination of eligibility for sale of privately-owned monuments.”
“In other words, forget about heritage, culture, history and meaning to your people. Let others do as they please with monuments and/or the surroundings of monuments that could endanger the monument itself. So why exactly do we have monument protection or even an ordinance [for – Ed.]?” Emmanuel asked.
He went on to stress that the care of monuments is being wilfully stagnated. He said it was ironic that the Courthouse had received the same permit to execute repairs as others have requested and been denied.
“The Courthouse can get, but a few feet across the road is denied,” he said. He also mentioned the old homes on Front Street belonging to the Apon and Wathey families which have been denied a permit for renovation.
“What are we doing in this country? Pasanggrahan is an important heritage piece in Philipsburg. It has been used as a marketing tool for St. Maarten. It is helpful in identifying the background of our country.
“Infrastructure of such buildings shows the creativity and talent of the labour-class people during that time and even helps to know about the lifestyle of the people in that era. It is a tourist attraction on a street that is devoid of historic attractions. But we can’t lift a finger to try and help? It would be shameful and I look forward to the minister and this government stepping up and doing the right thing,” Emmanuel said.