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Minister Duncan unveils plan for US $100M Justice Park for St. Maarten

SATURDAY, 03 NOVEMBER 2012

~ Will serve as centralised area for Justice Ministry departments ~

PHILIPSBURG–A centralised area costing roughly US $100 million with facilities and services the Ministry of Justice needs to provide service to the community was the topic of discussion during the meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament on Friday afternoon, November 2.

Minister of Justice Roland Duncan made a presentation on the Justice Park, which promises to house the various sectors of the Justice Ministry. He explained that these were preliminary measures being taken to realise the Justice Park, scheduled to take three to four years to complete.

The Justice Park is slated to be a centralised area where facilities for the various departments of the Ministry will be built. The area in question will be situated in Cay Hill in the vicinity of “The Box.” The Justice Park will be home to a Justice Administration Complex, a House of Detention with approximately 60 new cells and rooms for conjugal visits, a Youth Detention and Correctional Centre, a Courthouse, a housing facility and a Community Police area for Cay Hill and Belair.
The Justice Ministry consists of many departments, including the Secretary-General and staff bureau, Court of Guardianship, Youth and Family Services, National Detectives, Department of Special Permits, Victims Aid Bureau and more. The Ministry is growing vastly with approximately 850 collaborators being projected for 2015. For this reason, the Ministry needs to expand.

The Ministry also plans to make use of the BBW Building at the entrance of Sucker Garden to house shooting ranges and a 911 central dispatch centre.

With regard to a Youth Detention and Correctional Centre, legislation states that youths under 24 should not be housed with older inmates. Duncan also explained that the detention centre would house those over the age of 18 but younger than 24, while the correctional centre would serve the youth up to age 18. He explained that right now, because there are no facilities for youth who commit crimes, the Court lets them go.

The Minister has already spoken to and signed agreements with developer W.P. Carey Company LLC, which will establish contracts to construct the Justice Park. Payment for the park will be done through a lease agreement whereby the government pays 10 per cent of the park’s value and ownership will be transferred to government after 30 years.
The Ministry plans on levying certain fees for services provided – for example, a fee for obtaining a police record – to cover the cost of the construction of the park. The Minister also mentioned a NAf. 1,500 a year resident permit fee, NAf. 2,500 for a manager’s permit and NAf. 5,000 for a director’s permit, as examples, though he said these were preliminary figures and might be decreased.

“Payment should be completed in 20 years,” he said.

The Central Committee posed several questions and concerns to Duncan, mainly concerning the fees that would be implemented and whether efficient and timely service would be provided with these new costs. Duncan requested time to process questions and put together additional documentation that had been requested by MPs and to return for another meeting at a later date.

 

MPs pose concerns about Justice Park

MONDAY, 05 NOVEMBER 2012

PHILIPSBURG–Not all Members of Parliament are in agreement with Minister of Justice Roland Duncan’s plan to build a Justice Park.

Member of Parliament Leroy de Weever compared the Justice Park to the 1993 film Jurassic Park, citing what could happen to unfinished buildings and the consequences. De Weever posed his concerns, mainly on the developer W.P. Carey (WPC).

According to his research, WPC is a foreign-owned real estate investment trust company and he wants to know whether the plan put forward by the Minister is in fact a plan as documents already have been signed, he said.
“I don’t think developers would move forward unless they have a tenant prepared to lease the property. We need some clarity on that,” De Weever said.

He also wanted to know whether the developer was registered with the Security Trades Commission, citing that the company was not qualified, and who in fact would be responsible for carrying out the development. With regard to developing the area of the Justice Park, another concern was the Ministry’s plan on handling the execution of the judgement of floors that were built “illegally.”

Member of Parliament Johan “Janchi” Leonard opposes the plan completely saying, “I am not impressed.” Leonard’s concern is the cost of the project and its toll on taxpayers.

He stressed the fact that the “white elephant,” the unused government building on Pond Island, was a prime example as to why he was opposed to the Park. “[We want to, ed.] invest US $100 million in the project and the government building is just sitting there. The hospital needs money, pensioners need money. I will not agree with anything to put another dent [in finances] like the elephant,” Leonard said.

Other concerns were the breakdown of the budget for the Park, which was separated into property acquisition, facility completion, and build out and additional cost.

The Justice Park would be a centralised area with facilities and services the Ministry of Justice needs to provide service to the community: a Justice Administration Complex, a House of Detention with around 60 new cells and rooms for conjugal visits, a Youth Detention and Correctional Centre, a Courthouse, a housing facility and Community Police area for Cay Hill and Belair.

Property acquisition, including acquisition of properties for the Detention Facility and Justice Administration Complex on Welgelegen Road, the Police Academy, Training Centre and Office Facility in Sucker Garden, and for supporting facilities, infrastructure and future development on Welgelegen Road came to a total of $34,356,000 as presented by the Minister.

Facility completion and build out of the House of Detention and Sports Field, Justice Administration Complex, Courthouse, Youth Detention and Correctional Centre, infrastructure and security corridor, have a total budget of $55,060,726. Additional cost, including transfer and closing, supporting facilities and any unforeseen circumstances is $7,620,835.

The Justice Ministry consists of many departments, including the Secretary-General and staff bureau, Court of Guardianship, Youth and Family Services, National Detectives, Department of Special Permits, Victims Aid Bureau and more.

The Ministry is growing vastly with around 850 collaborators being projected for 2015 and for this reason needs to expand. The Ministry also plans to make use of the BBW Building at the entrance of Sucker Garden to house shooting ranges and a Central Dispatch Centre for 911.

Duncan requested time to process questions and put together additional documentation requested by MPs and return for another Parliament meeting at a later date.

The project is scheduled to take three to four years to complete.

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