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DH | Statians say ‘No’ to penitentiary being built in heart of Oranjestad

The rear of the St. Eustatius Police Station and holding cells, where the planned penitentiary was to be built.

EUSTATIUS–Residents of St. Eustatius have stated their opposition to the planned penitentiary being built in the heart of Oranjestad. The penitentiary was to be built as an extension of the police station at Van Tonnigenweg.

Several officials were present at the meeting, including Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco, Deputy Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers and Director of Judicial Institution Caribbean Netherlands (JICN) in Bonaire Wibo de Vries. These and other officials could not convince the attendees that the prison being built at that location was feasible for the community.

Franco said that as a result it is government’s position not to change the Spatial Development Plan, which means the prison will not be built behind the Police station.

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At the meeting persons came up with varying scenarios to have the prison built at another location. Persons with objections stated they were not opposed to the prison being built, but that the facility’s location was their main objection.

The first proposed location for the prison was at “Behind the Mountain,” but due to protest by persons living in that location; in 2012/2013 it was decided to build a prison in the industrial area of Man of War area.

The Island Council voted in favour of a change to the Spatial Development Plan to allow a detention facility to be built there and a parcel of land was purchased.

At the meeting, De Vries stated that the plans for a prison in Man of War was too expensive as construction would have had to start from the ground upwards.

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Different proposals by De Vries were brought forward, such as one that would camouflage the prison walls, but each proposal was met with opposition from those in attendance.

The stumbling block for many was the fact that the Police station is located within walking distance of the Historical Core, which is an important tourist attraction. Other objections were that the prison would have a 7-meter-high wall around it.

The planned location for the detention facility also met strong opposition from the public, due to its proximity to three schools and other key locations, such as the Government Administration Building, the Roman Catholic Church and various shops and businesses, among which the offices of telecommunications company EUTEL.

Bron: Daily Herald

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