American Samoa Fono Building Being Prepared For Demolition

44-year-old home of Legislature to be replaced by new structure, still being planned

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 11, 2017) – In this Samoa News photo taken yesterday, the Senate chamber is bare, with the furniture, including the chairs where visitors sit in the gallery removed. Walls have been stripped, as the two-story main Legislature building is prepared for demolition, making way for a new structure, which is still in planning.

Fono leaders over the years have been hoping for a new structure to replace the current one that was first dedicated in the summer of 1973.

Before the First Regular Session of the 35th Legislature officially ended last month, Fono leaders informed lawmakers about the Fono moving forward with a new structure, to replace the current building which has suffered many problems over the years e.g., leaky roof, rain coming in through the walls of the building. It was also getting expensive to repair the facility including the central air condition system, which breaks down from time to time.

Senators were informed to re-locate their offices from the Fono compound to their homes, because the wing (closest to the Tedi of Samoa building) that houses senators’ offices would be demolished as well.

The wing — closest to the inter island dock — which houses the offices of faipules will not be taken down and will remain on the Fono compound.

When the Fono returns in July for the 2nd Regular Session, the Senate will use the Samoan Guest Fale, or Fale Samoa on the Fono compound, for daily sessions and committee hearings, while the House will use the north wing of the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium for its regular sessions and committee hearings.

The Governor’s Office has been assisting the Fono leaders in finding alternative offices for lawmakers and staff during the transition period.

A total of $1.5 million in revenues from the sale of the American Samoa Economic Development Authority bonds has been allocated for the new Fono building, however there is no indication yet as to who the contractor is for the new building, or if a bid has even gone out.

A land-use permit has already been issued for the Fono to demolish the current structure; and according to House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale there is no firm date, at this point, as to when the current structure will be taken down.

Meanwhile, there have been several complaints from the public as well as Fono employees that many photos of previous well known lawmakers, which were on display in the main lobby of the building were removed by unknown persons last month, just at the close of the First Regular Session or sometime thereafter.

The Samoa News
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