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By Cécile Lucot
    Cécile Lucot has lived in St. Barths for ten years. Originally from Bordeaux, this professional journalist was the editor-in-chief of St. Barth Magazine for six years. She then participated in the daily local mini-newspaper "Today" and writes regularly for regional magazines. Once or twice a month, she presents a recap of local news on St. Barths Online.
October 15,2006 - #63
State Police Move to Fort Oscar

grabowski As of November 1, the State Police brigade will be located at Fort Oscar, a military installation overlooking the Port of Gustavia. Owned by the French Ministry of Defense, the site had been used (since the late 1970s) as a listening station for the DGSE (General Direction for Exterior Security) or the French counter-intelligence service.

The days are now over when the fort was strictly off limits, as the defense minister decided to close the espionage station last June. The parabolic antennas have been taken down, the equipment unplugged and put into storage in part of the fort reserved for the defense department, which has granted use of most of the facility to the state police, who are in turn relieved to finally find a solution to the headquarters in Corossol which are much too small. Current renovations divide the space into six separate offices, and two cells.

State police and their families will now inhabit eight houses adjacent to the fort that once housed the DGSE staff. The current police force includes 12 officers, four of which are “mobile,” or on temporary assignment to the island for just three months and housed in civilian homes. To get to the new Gendarmerie, or state police headquarters, you must go through Gustavia and take the Rue de la Colline, the highest road along La Pointe, on the far side of the harbor.

PAF Office at Espace Gambier

Since last spring, the municipality has made a small space in the cruise ship and ferry passenger terminal available for use by the PAF (Air and Frontier Police). As at the airport, where two agents are on permanent duty to control arriving passengers, the identity of all those arriving or leaving by boat is now verified as well. Until now, two PAF agents stationed before each boat controlled passports for these passengers manually.

The advent of the new office means that the agents will be able to consult their computer database while carrying out identity checks. With this in mind, the roof of the Espace Gambier building will be extended with an awning on each side to protect visitors who are waiting from bad weather, and provide better working conditions for the commercial agents from the maritime companies.

Summer Road Work

It’s an annual event: the municipality takes advantage of the relative calm of the summer months to get major roadwork done. At the entrance to Gustavia, a portion of the road between Le Select and the pharmacy has been closed to traffic for the better part of three months as water pipes, and cables for electricity (EDF) and telephone (France Telecom) have been laid underground. Cars going into Gustavia have had to drive through the municipal parking lot. The only exit from town toward the traffic circle and the airport, for example, is the road that goes past the dispensary. On the far side of the harbor, the dock located across from the Presqu’ile Hotel has been reinforced.

In its foundations, the workers found a superb cannon, measuring a little over three feet long, and most likely dating from the Swedish era in Saint Barth. The cannon will undergo renovation to remove a thick coat of rust and then be put on display near City Hall. The Port of Gustavia is planning to use the renovated dock (which now has a boat slip) for those boats belonging to professional fishermen.

  More to come
  Cécile Lucot
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