Let this experience not be wasted

To our current Leaders,

  Over the last two months we have all had a bit of unexpected extra time thrown at us and if there is one thing we have learned from all of this, it is that when not at work and at school, humans want to be healthier, more creative and more productive.

  And that Cilantro is the hardest herb to grow.

  What a shame it would be to go through this profound experience and not come out of it with improvements to our livelihoods.

  It is for that very reason, that I would like to make some proposals that could have huge consequences on the future of our little-big island.

  Firstly, please find a way to keep our additional marines and visiting officers as long as possible, maintaining the emergency status if necessary to allow us to justify the need for them. Not only are they easy on the eyes, but once our ports open, visitors will come, but ONLY if they know that St. Maarten is safe.

  The regulations that have been imposed over the last few months have had dire consequences on people’s incomes and due to lockdown, we have not yet experienced the huge spike in crime which is sure to follow. Please, maintain the police presence that we currently enjoy, in every neighbourhood, and make a one-year plan to bite down on crime in a serious manner.

  Permanently stationed controls in touristic areas like Mullet Bay, Pelican Keys, Philipsburg, Oyster Pond, Guana Bay, etc., where robberies, car theft and muggings are too frequent, should become the norm. Please create a safe environment that does not end when the lockdown eases.

  Secondly, it is very obvious that if given the opportunity, St. Maarteners want to exercise and spend time outdoors with their families. Please use the areas that are derelict and forgotten, such as the ring road which is currently being used for the storage of containers (what the heck is that about?!). Remove these illegal “warehouses” that shops are using to store their merchandise, and clean up the area, creating walkways, pedestrian bridges and signage which could include information about the birdlife and fauna.

  The areas on both sides of the Simpsonbay causeway could also be improved to allow more recreational areas for people to enjoy. Have you seen the amount of fitness enthusiasts using those areas? Let’s encourage them with additional safe environments like this to continue on their path to a healthier lifestyle.

  Enough with the building of hotels, businesses, warehouses. We need green spans and recreational areas that are centrally located, easy to access for everyone and maintained to show pride in our island. A healthier  and happier population will result in a more financially secure country. Do not miss this opportunity to do good for our future.

  Thirdly, this lockdown has proven to us that tourists are not the main contributors to garbage and littering. Our very own people are leaving an incredible amount of waste wherever they go. For the first time ever, the walking trails are full of garbage left by newly motivated hikers, and last week, Kim Sha Beach was left covered in bottles, plates, cups, etc. How sad to know that we are the ones polluting our own home, and not those visitors we continually blamed over the years.

  Having said that, a tremendous opportunity has been presented in the form of cleaning up our environment. If ministers and parliamentarians could pass legislation to maintain the 15 to 20 per cent reduction in their salaries, those funds could be allocated to a great team of legal residents needing work. They would be responsible for specific areas and report to a team leader. If that area is not maintained and kept clean, the job goes to another. Simple solution to an ongoing problem.

  In closing, please remember that tourists will not travel to a dirty, unsafe and unfriendly destination. An improvement to our environment in the way of green span creation, cleanliness and safety will make all the difference for the success of St. Maarten.

  Do not miss this opportunity to be better.


Susy Piscione