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BIG ferry may be launched in 9 months

BRIDE Investment Group may launch its roll-on, roll-off ferry business on Tinian nine months from now, according to BIG chief executive officer Phillip Mendiola-Long.

He said their plan suffered some setbacks because the Commonwealth Ports Authority cannot find land that BIG can lease for its ferry business.

“We need to find an area where we can park the ferry because the ferry is not a side-loading ship. It doesn’t park sideways to the dock. It parks to the rear so there are certain areas of concern for CPA. They are restricted from allowing us to park the ferry without having to go to the main dock. If we go to the main dock, there are other concerns and some requirements to meet so it doesn’t make economical sense to park the ferry in that area so we continue to work with CPA to find a final location.”

According to Mendiola-Long, “It was just recently when CPA admitted that they don’t have space for us to park so we are looking at private land to park our ferry. We have found one but another agency, whose name I don’t want to disclose, has to be involved and has to be aware that there’s going to be that type of relationship between three parties. So we’re hoping that everybody can agree that there’s a consensus to move forward. If it is accepted then we can move forward.”

He said a public hearing will be held on Monday for the proposed project on Tinian.

Phase one of the project includes the construction of a small commercial building with retail office space, restaurants and, possibly, a ferry terminal.

He is hoping that after the public hearing, Coastal Resources Management can expedite the review and issue a permit to BIG so it can begin the construction phase “and start spending money for the economy of Tinian.”

He added, “Right now, I have capital available at my disposal but I can’t spend it because we haven’t finished the permit process yet.”

Phase 2 of the project is the hotel construction, “but a historical survey study is required by the government and that will take about four to six months so as we do the historical study we will have construction ongoing while on another part of the land, the historical survey is also ongoing.”

Phase three is the Titanic casino, he added.

Mendiola-Long said recently, they had to lay off some of their local construction crewmembers “because they were too efficient — they finished the construction of the commercial building before a permit for the next phase could be issued.”

He added, “The schedule of our construction did not meet the schedule of permitting and as you know we also ran into a little bit of problem with a legal ambiguity — whether the CPA could lease the land to us or not. And there was also a threat of lawsuit so all that completely slowed down the project and we were unable to move.”

He said they had to “lay off some people because we don’t have anything for them to do for now. We’re hoping to go to the next phase so we can pick up those workers again.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/98892-big-ferry-may-be-launched-in-9-months

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