MVA official pushes Garapan revitalization, beautification

THE revitalization and beautification of Garapan must be prioritized if the CNMI wants to remain a top-tier destination, Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion said.

“MVA supports all efforts aimed at the redesign and beautification of Garapan because it is the heart of our tourism industry,” he added.

“Garapan Core is the commercial center of the CNMI, but lately it’s become crowded, dusty and unkempt and must be revitalized urgently.”

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres said in a separate interview that the Department of Public Works is fixing the drainage system in Garapan area to prevent flooding especially after a heavy downpour.

“I want to commend DPW for all the work that is done but it seems that we still need to focus more on Garapan,” the governor added.

Asked if there’s funding to revitalize Garapan, Torres said the government will identify it.

Concepcion said it is the right time for stakeholders to make the revitalization and beautification of Garapan a reality given the uptick in arrivals and increase in government revenue.

He said one idea is to designate one-way streets in the hotel area and allow parallel parking on one side.

Another idea is to include stone or brick sidewalks on all streets and on each side for pedestrians to have a safe place to walk, he added.

The other recommendations include slanted curbs to allow water runoff to drain properly into underground water channels; removal of power poles and burial of all power lines to prevent damage during storms; the installation of elegant street lights similar to Beach Road’s; installing pathway lights to beautify each street; the beautification of smaller side and back streets to prevent a hodgepodge of nice streets and grungy ones a block apart; repainting, renovation or demolition of abandoned or dilapidated buildings; a stricter enforcement of zoning and building code laws to force landowners and business owners to keep their areas tidy; re-channeling the storm runoff on Orchid St. toward the American Memorial Park wetland so it doesn’t exit into the Saipan lagoon and pollute the waters; bike lanes and parallel parking on Beach Road from American Memorial Park, south and past Hard Rock Café; sidewalks on both sides of Beach Road; and landscaping so streets and sidewalks are beautified.

“We cannot stress enough how important it is for Garapan to become a world-class destination to fit with our aim of attracting high-end premium tourists,” Concepcion said. “We can only do that if we offer high-end amenities.”

He said “almost everyone here has traveled outside the CNMI so they’ve seen what it’s like to have first world infrastructure.”

Concepcion said MVA is encouraging its partner-agencies to seek federal grants for Garapan revitalization.

MVA, he added, is willing to pitch in since the program is highly important for the tourism industry.

“We are the marketing arm for the CNMI government, not a planning or enforcement agency, so we will heed the advice of other agencies whose responsibility this falls under,” he said.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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