Courtesy of: The Morning News
By: Rosalie Klein
The tallest structure within the town of San Nicolas, after long years of neglect, stood proud and shining in the setting sun as the residents of Aruba’s eastern end gathered to celebrate the completion of this historic edifice on Friday evening, March 15.
The unveiling of the “Watertoren,” or Water Tower, erected in 1939 to provide water to the town of San Nicolas, was a festive affair attended by island dignitaries and welcomed by the surrounding community. It marks the first of many projects promised by the current administration to revitalize interest in Aruba’s east end for more than just its beaches. Aruba’s Minister of Finance, Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Mike de Meza, affirmed the necessity of preserving these monuments of island history for the next generation as well as the enjoyment of island visitors.
The Water Tower is adorned at the summit with the letters “LWV” which stand for “Landswatervoorziening,” the original incarnation of WEB, Aruba’s desalination plant. Prior to it being founded in Balashi, the island’s fresh water was obtained from wells and cisterns catching rain water.
LWV existed from 1931-1956, when it became the “Watervoorzieningsdienst” or “WVD” until 1961, and was then renamed Water-en Energiebedruf Aruba, “WEB” when it was combined with the island’s energy producing plant.
Restoration of Water Tower was a project of Aruba‘s Monument Bureau, under Director Yvonne Webb, who spoke for President Rene Kan in expressing their satisfaction at the completion of the project “early and under budget.” She thanked the principal sponsors, Aruba Airport Authority, SETAR N.V., Aruba’s national telecommunication company, W.E.B. N.V., and ELMAR N.V., the island’s power distribution entity. The financing was obtained by the Monument Fund Foundation, represented during the unveiling by Director Anne Witsenburg de Jong, which administrates Aruba’s landmarks and interfaces between engineering, finance, historical background and cultural context.
Addressing the San Nicolas community during the opening event were the Minister of Infrastructure, Immigration and Environment, Benny Sevinger, Minister de Meza and Prime Minister Mike Eman, on the significance of this project. Mrs. Berta Janga, who has maintained her flower shop in San Nicolas for over 35 years, spoke of her childhood memories of the building, and pride in seeing this beautiful example of Art Deco architectural design restored to its original glory. The architect of the restoration was Earon Matthew and overseeing the project and the San Nicolas community connection was Ramon Arrindel. During the event, Michele Brooks, currently with the government’s HR Department, read a touching poem titled “Stranded in Time” by the town’s “Poet Laureate” Roland Peterson. His works often reflect on San Nicolas life, and what it was like to grow up in this multicultural and historic part of Aruba.
Coming on the heels of the opening of the San Nicolas Community Museum, the Water Tower is a symbol of the revitalization of San Nicolas, its surroundings and economy. Both were welcomed and hailed by the residents as heralding a new era of interest in the town, which, like the Water Tower, has suffered some neglect over the past decades.