Minister Lake visits Down Street Cruise Heritage Development. Impressed with emphasis on cultural heritage and local entrepreneurship

Last week Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake, did a walk-through of the Down Street Cruise Heritage Development.
Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo as well as other port officials was on hand to provide information to Minister Lake with respect to how the project is progressing.
Minister Lake was very pleased with the traditional local architecture that is being used to build the cabanas that depicts the ginger bread houses which are part of the national heritage.
“The project had some delays due to the shipping of materials and then the inclement weather that the country experienced.  Things are moving forward.
“The essence of the project is to bring in the heritage value of the destination by showcasing the ginger bread homes of the past.  This is part of our cultural heritage and what makes us who we are.  It’s part of us and this is interesting to cruise and stay-over visitors.
“We already started marketing the development to our cruise partners.  The square at the development will feature one Dutch, a local and a vegan restaurant, along with assorted souvenir stores by local entrepreneurs.
“The port team went through a tedious process in interviewing and documenting local entrepreneurs who are interested in renting a place at the Down Street development.
“The Down Street Cruise Heritage Development is just one of several change community projects that will further enhance our country’s tourism product.  These types of projects in the various communities will anchor them into tourism.  It is a ground up approach where we want to bring back the rich traditional heritage of our forefathers and practice them today for our visitors to enjoy and at the same time learn about us as a people.
“This is the future where product enhancement is concerned. We are not only talking about cruise, but stay-over tourists as well.  No other destination has a duplicate of our cultural heritage.  We are all unique in each of our own way.  These change community projects will also be a showcase for our youth and generations to come,” CEO Mark Mingo pointed out.
In February 2014, CEO Mingo signed a contractual agreement with Windward Roads Infrastructure Director Jan Hendricks for the construction of Down Street Cruise Heritage Development.
The approximately US$2 million project entails the construction of a square with six cabanas to be used for a bar/restaurant, the selling of arts and crafts and other tourist related goods; toilet/bathroom facilities; lockers; the square will be disabled accessible; parking for five taxi’s; parking on the beachside and around the area which is being discussed based on several proposals; small splash pool for kids; and one of the main features will be a water fountain illuminating 30 different lights at night.  The new square will also have 24-hour security.
The square is strategically located next to the Walter Plantz Tender Jetty which connects to the boardwalk/beach promenade, Down Street and Front Street which allows for a broader distribution flow of passengers.
The square will be fully equipped for local musicians, artists and bands with a ‘plug and play entertainment’ feature. Entertainment is an important part of heritage square which will also feature a stage, speakers and a generator.
The plans for the Down Street Cruise Heritage Development go back to 2008 when the Walter Plantz Tender Jetty materialized.  Studies carried out pointed to this being the best concept for the Down Street area.