TINIAN WAITS FOR U.S. ON $3.5 MILLION AIRPORT PROJECT

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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, June 26) - The Office of Insular Affairs, which provides capital improvement project funds to the CNMI, has yet to respond to a reprogramming request of Tinian regarding the installation of an instrument landing system at its airport.

Early last month, the Tinian legislative delegation, along with officials of the island’s municipal council and Mayor Jose P. San Nicolas, sent their request regarding the diversion of US$3.5 million to the ILS project. The fund was earmarked for a wastewater project.

They still need an additional funding for the US$16 million project.

The Tinian officials said it will take them some time at the current rate of funding and revenue base to accumulate enough funds to be able to commence the construction of the wastewater project.

Keith Aughenbaugh, federal CIP coordinator, yesterday said OIA is still assessing its response.

"We’re in the process of formulating the response to their request. (The issue) is complicated because they’re asking approval to use a wastewater fund to the ILS project that are both important projects for the island. But, it’s really a matter of determining their priority... wastewater or ILS," he told Variety.

Aughenbaugh was on Tinian last week to conduct some assessment of the island’s projects.

"I met with the airport people and we talked about ILS…as well as wastewater project. I also visited the terminal and the airport where a conveyor system will be installed."

Besides the ILS installation, Tinian officials also want OIA to approve their reprogramming proposal that will fund the baggage conveyor system for the airport.

Aughenbaugh said OIA may probably come up with its decision next month.

Future CIP funds for Tinian will go to the wastewater project, the island’s officials said.

In a recent interview, delegation chairman Sen. Henry San Nicolas, Covenant-Tinian, said that 65 percent of Tinian’s share of future CIP money and 35 percent of the revenue generated by any new local casino development on island will go to the wastewater project.

"The leadership envisions being able to use the funds to improve the transportation facilities as these will help bring in the tourists and boost both the tourism and gaming industries on Tinian," he said. "As we are all aware, transportation infrastructures are critical to such industries," he said.

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