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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 20) – Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Benigno Fitial says the Garapan Fishing Base is reserved for a floating hotel.

He said the farmers and fishermen who want to construct a public market on the site will be offered a different location.

A group of investors from Cleveland, Ohio, which the governor did not specifically identify, is proposing to build a floating hotel in the area.

"That area is reserved for the best investment ever. It’s a floating hotel on each side of the dock. The dock would be expanded and extended and the most important feature of that (area) is a convention center with a 5,000 person capacity," the governor said. "These are the same investors that came in five years ago from Cleveland, Ohio. They came with a beautiful plan. They want to build a floating hotel. It’s going to be on a barge. All the rooms would be suites."

Local farmers and fishermen said the Garapan Fishing Base has historical significance to the indigenous people and is an ideal location for their proposed public market.

The governor, however, said there are alternative sites for the group, like the Samoan housing area.

The administration, which now has control over public lands, believes that prime public land fronting the beach should be reserved for potential investors.

March 20, 2006

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