- Greater Great Bay Area, Development Perspective 'Friendly' Island Dutch Sint Marteen    click here to open paper content758 kb
by    Heyning, Helena C.M. | hheyning@xs4all.nl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The case study 'Greater Great Bay Area, Development Perspective' deals with the Dutch part of St. Martin and more specific with the area of its capital Philipsburg and surrondings, the so called Greater Great Bay Area.

The island of St. Martin is located in the North Eastern Caribbean (latitude 18N, longitude 063W), approximately 200 miles to the east of Puerto Rico. In the Treaty of Munster in 1648 it was divided into a French portion (called Saint-Martin, capital Marigot) and a Dutch portion (called St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles).

The Island Council gave TKA, Teun Koolhaas Associates / Architecture & Urban Design, the assignment to develop the vision. The new town Almere in The Netherlands was intermediary in the process. The author of this case study, Helena Heyning, was a member and the spokeswoman of the TKA team.

December 2002 TKA started the preparations and interviews, March 2003 the final Development Perspective was presented to the Island Council and other stakeholders. The vision was received with much enthusiasm. The follow up is under preparation.

The case study 'Greater Great Bay Area, Development Perspective' deals with the Dutch part of St. Martin and more specific with the area of its capital Philipsburg and surrondings, the so called Greater Great Bay Area.

The main purpose of the Development Perspective is to study the impact of global economy on the historical city of Philipsburg and to balance and recon ciliate the large scale, modern and global developments with the small-scale historical setting and fragile environment, at the same time supporting desired and much needed economic developments. Quote Commissioner ‘The time has come to assess and seize the potential and opportunity for the future of Philipsburg.’

There are considerable pressures to develop Philipsburg and the region around the Great Salt Pond and the Great Bay, the so called Greater Great Bay Area. These arise on the one hand from the growing demands of the large-scale global cruise tourism centred on Great Bay, and on the other hand from the needs of the local population for expansion of government and social facilities. Also fierce competition from other emerging commercial centres on the island and other Caribbean destinations are a reality. The negative spiral within which the town finds itself must be addressed.

Age-old Philipsburg with its delightful beach lies on Great Bay between the cruise terminal and Great Salt Pond. This little town with its detailed gridiron pattern, developed to meet the needs of the 18th century (salt industry), has great period charm which has won it a deserved place as a tourist attraction, and needs to be preserved as such.

At the same time, Philipsburg is a modern regional centre in its own right with a good infrastructure, comprising schools, churches, police station, health centre, government offices, banks, hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops and residential accommodation. The growing tourist industry is however laying claim to more and more space in this little town. The initial result is that the residential function is being largely driven out of town, in favour of commerce (tax free shops, casinos) and hotels and the aesthetic fabric defined by traditional Caribbean architecture is being replaced by development often devoid of quality and respect of the historic surroundings.

The population of the island has undergone an explosive growth during the past three decades, from 10,000 to 40,000, as the economical focus turned from a few rich tourists to mass tourism (cruise ships). This growth asks for new social facilities as well as expansion of the government and its buildings and international offices for private enterprises. It follows that effective control of traffic and parking is another one of the main tasks facing St. Maarten in general and Philipsburg in particular.

Careful consideration must also be paid to the ecological and natural environments. Hills and valleys, bays and lagoons: wide open, green and blue, determine the image of St. Maarten – a beauty that has to be cherished because the charm of natural landscape and its ecology is fragile. These so called ‘Golden Eggs’ need protection as do the historical monuments.

Philipsburg cannot escape the pressure on it to develop, to meet the needs of both the tourist industry and the growing population as sketched above. It is however unable to respond to this pressure without effective guidance. Careful consideration must be paid to the siting of the new facilities required in the town.

The Development Perspective lays down the main lines along which Philipsburg and the Bay Area can develop and proposes strategies for improvement.

Keywords: reconciliate global economy & fragile historical environment
Global, multicultural cities
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