Like many concerned citizens in our community, I too have been paying keen attention to the recent developments with Divi hotel erecting a closed gate and thereby blocking access to Fort Amsterdam.
No one, including me believes their excuse for the closed gate and a sign that reads: No Unauthorized Admittance, All visitors must request written permission from Little Bay Beach Hotel as a way to safeguard people’s safety.
High winds and cliffs have been part of Fort Amsterdam for centuries. Fort Luis in Marigot has the same type of cliffs and visitors experience high winds at times, yet Fort Luis is open to the public every day for everyone to experience our history and the beautiful views.
With this most recent action from the Divi Hotel it proves that they are playing hard ball in trying to get what they want, and they are dead set on holding Fort Amsterdam hostage. Divi hotel is insulting and disrespecting St.Maarteners with their latest move.
If they were truly a hotel that cared about the people’s heritage, their sign would read: " Welcome to Fort Amsterdam" "Tour this historical fort, all are welcome" a security guard could be placed at the entrance to stop motorized vehicles from entering, and the guard could welcome and guide visitors at the starting point. They could even charge a $2 fee per person, with monies going to keep the fort clean and maintained. Guided tours organized by their activities desk for $5. a person. This is how a friendly resort would promote one of our prime heritage sites on the island.
Fort Amsterdam is the sole zoned heritage site on the Dutch side of St.Maarten, and it appears that Divi Hotel is keen on making us all suffer because they would never be able to build hotel rooms and other facilities on this historically valuable location.
Yes, poor decisions were made in the past when Claude Wathey and others in government sold the fort back in the 1960’s, the people mass rallied and held protests in the 1980’s that forced government to seek ways and means to reverse a bad decision into trying to protect this fort.
Today we have a generation of people more informed and caring about their heritage. While Fort Amsterdam is known as a 17th. century fort, built by Europeans and slave labor,
The fort played an important role in the 20th century as well. Miss Lori deWeever, lived on the fort with her 5 children, she hoisted the flags when the ships would enter the bay. During the 1970’s the fort was also the location of what is now known as the radio station PJD2.
Instead of the Daily Herald editorial advocating an appeasement in allowing Divi Hotel a compromise to build, the media should really be looking into the public access road that once was there. What has happened to this access road? Did Divi include it in their property rights? Was this public access road part of the original deed of transfer? If so, who allowed this and who should be held responsible for this?
We have already lost so much history and nature in the past 45 years, that it becomes urgent to protect and respect the few and little we have remaining. Divi Hotel has to stop holding the fort hostage and penalizing Sint Maarteners for recognizing and appreciating our history.
St. Maarten Pride Foundation