FITIAL STANDS FIRM ON SAIPAN WATERFRONT PROJECT

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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April 19) – The Fitial administration still believes that the Garapan Fishing Base in Saipan should be reserved for high-yield commercial development and that the public market can be relocated to another site.

[PIR editor’s note: Garapan is a prime beachfront area located on the central west coast of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.]

"The administration is not reversing itself on the Garapan Fishing Base issue. It still supports the proposed project on another location, on an alternate site," Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said.

He said the administration’s decision is based on "economics rather than politics."

"If the interested parties can show a credible plan demonstrating that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands economy would receive more revenue from that project rather than a multi-million dollar hotel development, then the administration would be willing to re-consider," Reyes said.

He said for that "prime piece of real estate in Garapan, the administration’s policy is utilitarian: the greatest happiness (or benefits) for the greatest number of people."

He said the administration’s decision is based on what would be best for the community in light of the "precarious financial situation and weak economy, and looming pay cuts."

Former Representative Tomas B. Pangelinan, the spokesman of the farmers and fishermen’s group that wants the public market located at the fishing base, said they will meet to come up with a position on the administration’s decision.

"This is a group activity. Once we see their position published, we will call everybody together to form a uniform decision," Pangelinan said yesterday.

Pangelinan said some of their members are hesitant to take a position on the issue because of "political reasons."

"Some of them are hesitant to take a position because their families are working for the government and a few have also changed their stand because of political reasons," he told Variety.

On April 12, the group’s petition, signed by 1,675 residents, was presented to the administration.

The petition requests Governor Benigno R. Fitial to reconsider his decision terminating the construction of a public market at the Garapan Fishing Base, which the administration wants reserved for a hotel investor.

The administration is considering the nearby Samoan housing area as an alternative site for the market.

April 20, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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