Entrepreneur Bernard van Stekelenburg has been paying rent for the Genneper watermill since last November. However, Van Stekelenburg’s store is not yet open but, it will be at the end of the month, the entrepreneur says.
The entrepreneur would like more than a million euros to leave the mill. The municipality of Eindhoven thinks that is too much, but the entrepreneur wanted to comment on that amount. “When I had to leave the mill in 2017, my main income suddenly stopped. I lost 90 percent of my income, I had to close my shop, and that situation lasted five years. It cost me my pension, so I want to be compensated” said the entrepreneur. “Those and other costs are part of that total amount.”
“Look, in the end, these things are always about money. But it’s not just about money,” said Stekelenburg, who feels that the municipality has treated him badly.
Grind for the prince
“It is said that I only ground for the prince [running the mill without grinding corn], but that was a very conscious choice. Because, even after I left, no grinding occured at the mill. It was done electrically because the condition of the mill was not good enough to be able to grind good quality flour. But the municipality used the ‘grinding for the prince’ as an argument to get me out of the building.”
In addition, according to Van Stekelenburg, the water mill is an area of interest for the municipality of Eindhoven. “I understand that all kinds of things are planned for the area around the Genneper Parks.That museum [Vonk] will of course be built, they want to develop the area and the windmill is part of those plans. I understand that, but talking to me would have been better than taking me to court.”
“Because my name and that of my company are now damaged and there is no trust in each other. The negotiations are not going smoothly, and I cannot rule out that it will eventually end up in court again,” says Van Stekelenburg. “I am within my rights, that is why the municipality has not appealed.”
In any case, the entrepreneur wants to reopen the shop at the mill in February. “Yes, at the end of the month, it’s time. I’ve paid three months’ rent without earning anything. I’m not going to do that for another three months. And once I’m open, there’s no turning back as far as I’m concerned. They can then offer me ten million euros, but I won’t leave anymore,” said Van Stekelenburg.
‘Not obligated to anything’
Outside of the negotiations, many others involved were also disappointed that the previous millers had to leave. Whether there is still room for the activities that have taken place in the watermill since 2017, the entrepreneur does not yet dare to say. “That is also part of the negotiations. I am certainly open to a collaboration, but the conditions must be right. The judge has made it clear in his ruling that I am not obliged to do anything,” says Van Stekelenburg.
Translate: Ayşenur Kuran