The development of recreational facilities and the upgrading of the school buildings were two topics discussed during the recent retreat of the Island Council and the Executive Council.
Recreational facilities are high on the agenda of the Island Council, especially the creating of a public swimming pool annex recreational park. The Juliana Sports Field and the Johan Cruijff Court in The Bottom are already improved, while plans are made to upgrade the playground in St. John’s, the Wilhelmina Park, the kitchen facility at the Juliana Sports Field, and a further upgrade of the Cruijff Field. Budget proposals are being drafted for these plans. A project team has made the first plan for a public swimming pool annex recreational park. The idea is to create this at Cove Bay by upgrading the building, expanding the playground, add new facilities to the area and build a saltwater pool which needs a lot less maintenance than a regular swimming pool.
The Island Council pushed hard to have lights installed at the Johan Cruijff Court. A timer will see to the automatic switching on and turning off of the lights. Contact has been made with the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the Cruijff Foundation to resurface the field. The planning and a budget plan for this project will be ready shortly.
Other government buildings used as multifunctional (youth) centers will also be evaluated and the structures reinforced (roofs repaired or replaced) based on the recommendations of the evaluations.
While the ongoing repairs are taking place to the roof of the Sunny Valley Youth Center in The Bottom, the Island Council also suggested to have a porch roof added to the construction works. Members of the Island and Executive Council visited several projects, including the Artisan Foundation, the Under the Hill housing project phase II, the Sunny Valley Youth Center, and the new parking lot at the schools in St. John’s.
The Public Entity Saba, with the financial assistance of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW), has completed renovations at the Sacred Heart School and the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS). Plans to construct a new daycare and afterschool care building and the expansion of the primary school for the kindergarten continue to be worked on in consultation with the Ministry of OCW.
In the opinion of the Island Council, since the new constitutional structure, the progress with regard to the new building and the expansions have been much too slow. Several stakeholders, along with the Executive and Island Council, have expressed frustrations about the delays. In the meantime, the needs have to somewhat change, which stakeholders should take into account when moving forward.
The Island Council suggested having discussions with the Ministry of OCW, to continue the further upgrading of the school buildings and to facilitate the construction of the new daycare and after school care center. The Island Council noted that continued improvements to Saba’s only secondary education institution remained necessary.
During a recent meeting between the government and the telecommunications company Satel, the quality/higher speed and the price of the internet were discussed. In June, the contract with the present provider will end. The bidding process for a new provider started in April. This should result in a new contract with better quality/higher speed and better pricing. Satel will work on installing extra equipment for areas such as St. John’s and Zion’s Hill to improve reception. The Island Council also expressed interest in having fiber optic cable installed to each household. Even though this will not guarantee optimal speed, it does allow to improve the infrastructure needed for the near future.
The number of cars on Saba has increased, which creates parking problems. The Public Entity Saba is putting together a mobility plan that will deal with different aspects of this issue. Constructing a parking lot specifically for government vehicles is being considered. Car wreck removal will be part of the plan.