Préfet Vincent Berton, President Louis Mussington and Vice-Recteur Harry Christophe had the honour of laying the first stone to launch the College 900 construction. (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT--Another symbolic first-stone-laying ceremony took place in La Savane on Monday afternoon for the future Collège 900 which replaces Soualiga Collège in Cul-de-Sac that was destroyed in Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The main principals, Préfet Délégué Vincent Berton, President of the Collectivité Louis Mussington and Vice-Recteur Harry Christophe representing Guadeloupe Academy Recteur Christine Gangloff-Ziegler, were joined by Député for St. Martin and St. Barths Frantz Gumbs, Senator Annick Pétrus, Vice-Presidents, Territorial Councillors, and contractors for the launch of the construction project.
The project is located on land adjacent to the fire station and not far away from Cité Scolaire Robert Weinum. The land was originally earmarked for a new senior citizen’s home.
An overview of the project was first given by José Carti from the Department of the Living Environment (Cadre de Vie) and engineer Stéphane Leblanc from the architectural firm IDP Antilles. Some 14 construction companies and subcontractors will be employed on the project.
A symbolic first-stone-laying ceremony took place in La Savane on Monday afternoon for the future Collège 900. In photo: An architectural drawing of Collège 900 in La Savane.
Mussington acknowledged in his remarks that he had encountered difficulties in finding the necessary budget, but affirmed it was essential to realise the project to welcome pupils in the best possible conditions.
The original budget of 24 million euros rose to 34 million euros due to inflation. The State had contributed 18 million euros. The Collectivité and the State will have to find the additional funding to complete the budget.
Referring to the integration clause that must be respected by contractors, Mussington insisted that young St. Martiners be employed on the building site according to the needs, a sentiment endorsed by Berton who appealed for the college to be completed in time for the start of the 2025 school year in September. It is expected about 100 young people will be employed on the project.
The Collège will consist of five buildings, accommodating 900 students and equipped with the latest digital technology. Some 31 air-conditioned classrooms will be situated adjacent to a Centre de Documentation et d’Information (CDI) or multi-media room, library, and administrative offices. A refectory with its own kitchen, a gymnasium and a car park, are also in the plans.
The Collège will be built to hurricane and earthquake standards and can serve as a hurricane shelter for 600 people if necessary. The roofs of the buildings will be covered in 800m2 of solar panels for energy independence.
With the land already cleared, groundwork for the foundations will be done in May and the first of the two cranes will arrive in July. The work will then continue for 22 months.