December 26' 2009 - #111
Holiday Spirit In Gustavia
Mega-yachts have been streaming into the port since early December, with the Quai de la République and the Quai General de Gaulle full and the dock by the Wall House almost full as well. Gustavia has taken on a festive spirit with Santa Claus visiting every afternoon, as part of the holiday revelries organized by the Territorial Tourism Committee, which also launched a window decoration competition for all businesses in Gustavia and St. Jean, from December 12-28. Prizes for the best displays will be presented on December 30 at 5pm on the main dock.
Blue Zone Parking In Gustavia
On November 9, after much discussion, the territorial council voted unanimously (less one vote) to enact “blue zone” parking in Gustavia as of December 15, 2009. On the drawing boards since 2006, the idea has had its share of criticism: the main objection is that without the addition of new parking spaces, and the plan to institute paid parking in the large lot along the waterfront, the blue zones would not solve the parking problem in town, and would, on the contrary, make it even more difficult to find a place to park during the day. The idea behind the blue zone is to allow vehicles to park for free, but for a limit of 90 minutes before having to move the car, from 8am-6pm, except on Sundays and holidays, when all parking is free. Parking in the blue zones, which are indicated with special signage, is available to any car that places a blue disk on the dashboard (clearly visible through the windshield) indicating the time the car was parked. The blue disks are available at the police station, the port, airport, and tourist office, as well as the Hotel de la Collectivité. Blue zone parking is in effect as follows: Both sides of the Rue de la République (from the pharmacy to Le Select); Rue de France (from Le Select to the dock); Rue du Bord de Mer; Rue Place d’Armes on the left side (from the waterfront to Béranger); Rue Samuel Fahlberg along the public garden (from Ici & La Real Estate to Le Bistrot restaurant). Those who do not respect the 90-minute parking limit (by moving the car and re-setting the time on the disk) or do not display a blue disk in these zone are subject to a fine of 11 euros, or a fine of 35 euros if the vehicle is parked over 24 hours in a blue zone.
New Dock Open in Gustavia
The wooden walkway along the waterfront in Gustavia that was destroyed by hurricane Omar was reopened on November 30 by a concrete dock after four months of reconstruction under the supervision of the island’s technical services office. The new section measures 550’ long by 9’ wide, and was built with a special series of zigzags in the supports below the water level to help control swells. There is also a perpendicular pontoon to house dinghies on one side and the SNSM rescue boat (French National Society for Rescue at Sea). Boats displaced during the construction period have been able to move to the new dock, freeing up the berths in front of the Hotel de la Collectivité for large yachts during the season.
Separating Trash For Recycling
The Collectivité has distributed letters in French/English to all mailboxes explaining how to separate household trash. In 1998, St Barth was the first French overseas municipality to start a recycling program. But in spite of numerous informational campaigns, many households on the island still do not separate their trash properly. The principle is very easy: one bag for garbage, paper/cardboard, and plastic bottles/containers; and a second bag for all glass and metal, from bottles to cans. All trash in the first bag is burned in the modern incinerator in Public, which meets European standards. The problem arises from the fact that metal and glass objects should not be in the trash that is burned as they produce a residue that must be sent off island by boat at great cost to a plant that can treat it. Glass, metal, soda cans, aerosols, all tin cans, batteries, tires, and electronics should all be separated from household trash that can be burned, and large objects must be taken to the trash collection center in Public. The island has regular collection of clear plastic bags with bottles and cans, once a week at least in each neighborhood. The glass is crushed to make rough sand that can be used to create sub-strata for road paving, or for laying water pipes, or even filtering water for swimming pools. At the initiative of the non-profit association, Sub Protect, with the support of the COM, batteries are collected in special containers in many different stores and businesses, and brought to the dump. They are then stockpiled until they are sent to Guadeloupe, where a company that specializes in the treatment of HAZMAT recycles them. Aluminum and other metals are regularly sent via barge to be recycled. French law requires special handling of infectious medical waste materials, which must be labeled and placed in special bags and dedicated recipients taken directly to the incinerator for burning. The overall situation is positive but there is room for improvement: bags with trash that has not been separated, or large bags placed along the side of the road, represent a lack of good citizenship by those who do not respect the rules.
More to come