VII.31 Colonial City of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
At the request of the authorities of the Dominican Republic, an expert mission was undertaken in August 1998 to assess the state of conservation of the World Heritage site of Santo Domingo. The report emphasized the need to balance interventions in the physical-environmental recuperation of the area, tourism development and the socio-cultural development of the local population (housing, services etc.). It furthermore stressed that the effective control by the Office for the Cultural Heritage depends very much on the adoption of the Master Plan for the City which would establish an extended protection zone and norms for land-use. It also pointed out that several buildings in the city had collapsed recently, not caused by natural disasters but by the lack of maintenance.
On 22 September 1998, Hurricane Georges caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic. The Secretariat received reports from the Office for Cultural Heritage of the Dominican Republic and the national ICOMOS Committee. It was reported that serious damage was caused to residential buildings, churches and to the Casa de Juan de Herrera at the Plaza de Colon.
The Committee expressed concern about the damage caused by Hurricane George to the World Heritage site of Santo Domingo and encouraged the national authorities to take the necessary measures for the consolidation and safeguarding of the damaged buildings. It expressed its readiness to assist in undertaking emergency measures for the consolidation and recuperation of damaged buildings. It noted that the Chairperson had approved emergency assistance for the safeguarding of the Casa de Juan de Herrera.
At the same time, however, the Committee noted that part of the damage could only occur due to the lack of maintenance and preventive measures. It stressed the need for risk preparedness and preventive planning and conservation measures, particularly in hurricane prone areas such as the Caribbean.
The Committee requested the authorities to submit, by 15 April 1999, a progress report on the actions taken in response to the report of the monitoring mission of August 1998 and to the damage caused by Hurricane Georges.
The Committee requested the Secretariat and the advisory bodies to look into the possibilities to develop specific activities for the Caribbean to promote and implement risk preparedness schemes.