Friday, April 16, 2010

CNMI works on Lighthouse report for possible visitors center site

Reposted from the Saipan Tribune - a 04/16/10 article by Haidee V. Eugenio

Until an engineering survey and cost analysis of the Lighthouse on Navy Hill are completed, other sites may still be considered for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument visitors center.

The Lighthouse was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is located on the highest point of Navy Hill behind Garapan on the western side of Saipan.

Press Secretary Angel Demapan said the Department of Land and Natural Resources will conduct an engineering survey and cost analysis of the Garapan or Navy Hill Lighthouse to determine its potential as a future Marine Monument visitor center or a visitor/education center for marine or environmental program.

“The work will include analysis of structural integrity, electrical, plumbing, safety, security of site, etc., as well as cost estimates of how much is needed to enable said lighthouse to function as an education or visitor center. Outstanding issues such as property ownership, parking, neighborhood concerns, etc. should also be examined,” he told Saipan Tribune.

Demapan said a final report on the safety and viability of the Lighthouse, estimated renovation needs, including a detailed cost estimate, and an assessment of needed work, will be due to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Office of National Marine Sanctuaries by May 31, 2011.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP) requested a member directed appropriation of $220,000 for Fiscal year 2010 to be used for educational programs on marine sanctuaries.

He said this could be used for scoping work on the monument visitors center, including conducting public hearings on where the public wants to see the visitors center. He said it would have been better if the visitors center is near the ocean, but the Fitial administration said the Lighthouse also has a historical and maritime significance.

Sablan introduced last year a bill to put up the Marine Monument visitors center in the CNMI instead of Guam. The bill is still with the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife chaired by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, who wants the center to be built in Guam.

Sablan, in a submission to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, also asked $1 million for the planning and design of a Marine Monument visitors center to be built in the CNMI.