The St. Maarten Government wants to improve the sports infrastructure on the island of St. Maarten. The intention is to set up one foundation to manage all the sporting facilities on St. Maarten. Research is presently being conducted to determine the proper structure for this sports foundation.
Minister of Infrastructure William Marlin confirmed on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, reports that a cricket stadium, drag strip and football field will be built in Philipsburg in the Pond Island area.
Speaking at the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing, he did not have time to expound on the details of these projects, citing a pending meeting immediately following the briefing.
However, he confirmed that the sand being transported to the field was from the dredging being executed at the harbour facilities, the drag strip would not be located on the same side of Great Salt Pond as the racetrack and cricket stadium, and the car-crushing facility would be relocated.
He could not say when the projects would be “rolled out,” as they are still in development stages. He said the Ministry of Housing and Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI had provided the coordinates this week to delineate the areas for filling.
Marlin defended the projects by citing the need to develop sports tourism as a means of diversifying the economy. Having a cricket stadium suitable to host international matches will attract people who would not come to St. Maarten under normal circumstances, he said. Additionally, finding an another location for a cricket stadium is imperative, as part of the road network (Link 2) will run through the property where cricket currently is played.
He noted that while drag strip racing is very popular among local people, unfortunately there is no professional strip on either side of the island.
When former Commissioner of Sports Frans Richardson proposed the drag strip in August 2010, the project called for the construction of a quarter-mile strip, followed by a “stopping area” of almost an eighth of a mile. At that time the intention had been for the Drag Racing Association to look for funding, managing and maintaining the strip, while government was to commit to designing the facility and transferring the land to the association.
Richardson had indicated that more of the Great Salt Pond would have to be filled in and provision would have to be made to protect Philipsburg and the strip itself from flooding. At the time he was certain that new water pumps would suffice.
No information was immediately available about a range of matters associated with the project, including the overall financing of the project and its related activities (trucking of sand, etc.); how much of the pond is being filled in, considering that the pond is at or near its carrying capacity; environmental impact; safety measures for the drag strip; noise pollution; parking and traffic considerations; and drainage.
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