The San Nicolas Business Association on the Secrets Baby Beach project: “Haven’t you noticed that the west side of the island never encounters problems with hotels?”

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(Oranjestad)—After the verdict of Judge Winfield from the Lar Administrative Court, in which he stated that the construction for the Secrets Baby Beach hotel by Three Rivers must be put on hold while the court decides on a new resolution, the San Nicolas Business Association have present their point of view on the issue.

Last Saturday, a group of inhabitants from Sero Colorado in San Nicolas has informed that according to the law, the Three Rivers project has a suspended construction permit, and so is not authorized to continue work on the Secrets Baby Beach Hotel project. To this, Judge W.C.E. Winfield has ruled that a suspension of the construction permit of Three Rivers is not necessary, due to the fact that according to Article 59 of the Building and housing ordinance (BWV), the moment an appeal has been made on the permit, construction must automatically be put on hold until further notice.

However, members of the San Nicolas Business Association (SNBA), have decided come forward and express that San Nicolas is in need of further progress. President of the Association, Errol de Freitas, have mentioned that the plans of the hotel is facing yet another hold up, which to them seems unfair. This is because they feel that hotel projects on the west side of the island are not getting even 10% of the criticism they are receiving.

Within the community of San Nicolas, there is a widely felt sentiment of “Why We Again,” in reference of the fact that there is always something that gets in the way of the district’s progress. According to him, Regulations of the Spatial Development Plan (ROPV) has opened the door for San Nicolas to establish their own All-inclusive hotel, with the hopes that this could greatly contribute to the economy and work opportunities of the district.

As an association, they have previously decided to stay quiet on the issue with the inhabitants of Sero Colorado, but de Freitas have stated that “when you bring conflict, you have no room for conversation; you have no room to reach an understanding or to overcome differences. This is the way we choose to go about this,”

He also argues that the Country Package given to the islands of the Dutch kingdom states that the islands must execute projects that will create an economic balance around the island. “Haven’t you noticed that the west side of the island never encounters problems with hotels? No one is opposed to those projects. This shows how much the ROPV has failed, because it seems that there are no regulations concerning the hotels built on the west side. It’s only for the fact that it’s in San Nicolas that people now have a problem with this new project,” de Freitas expressed.

In 2019, studies have shown the potential for San Nicolas to further grow as a district. It has been said then that “the time for San Nicolas is now.” Yet not much has been improved. De Freitas said that the time, they decided to stay quiet about their concerns. They want the people of Aruba to support San Nicolas, the same way they support the development of other districts. At the same time, the president of the association stated that we need to stand still and think on what is most important for the district.

In terms of the judge’s verdict, there are seven points that caused a disruption for the association’s goal for San Nicolas. However, there is one point that has specifically “opened Pandora’s box again”, which may result in negative consequences not only for San Nicolas, “but also for the rest of the island, because shutting down an unfinished developed means wasting resources and plots of land on the island,” de Freitas explained. He expressed that the seed has already been planted, and that they will continue to share information about this new development in the coming days.

They now wonder who will be responsible for the damages done: “Now that we have already started construction, do the people think we will just knock it down? I can understand their concern, but we have to put things into perspective and consider what the effects would mean,” he stated.

To finalize, the association expressed that they are against the verdict of the judge, but they do not want to lose sight of what this means: “You have feel what the community of San Nicolas feels; walk in streets and see how empty and lifeless it is. Some people don’t feel safe walking in the main street because of the sex work establishments that are in the area. San Nicolas is in need of some progress; some life. This is something that we take very seriously, yet we think people have lost sight of this.”