Saipan mayor supports ‘taking back’ American Memorial Park, but has concerns

WHILE supporting a move to reinstate local control of the American Memorial Park, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang is concerned about the subsequent cost of maintaining the facility.

In his written comment submitted to the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, Apatang said he supports the intent of House Bill 20-152 which was recently passed by the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate.  Rep. Donald Barcinas introduced the measure.

According to the mayor, the CNMI has neither been harmed nor delayed in its path for progress because it has been restricted from using American Memorial Park for its annual and special events.

He said the non-use of the park might have caused slight inconveniences to the CNMI but only because the National Park Service must comply with federal laws and regulations.

He said the park is a significant development on public land on the western shores of Saipan. “To get where it is today, it took millions of dollars and many hours of careful planning to develop it into a peaceful park that signifies its name — a solemn place where thousands of United States armed forces soldiers and local civilians are to be perpetually remembered and honored for the sacrifices they made and lost lives in the battle for the liberty of the people of CNMI.”

Apatang said he would support the intent of the bill to place the administration of the park in the hands of the CNMI government, but as of this time, the government doesn’t have a clue as to the financial and resource burdens it would entail to maintain the park.

He said improvements to the park’s Court of Honor, Bell Tower, Marianas Memorial and tennis court cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and maintenance to keep them in good condition will not only cost additional money but also many man-hours.

The mayor said the National Park Service is currently responsible for the financial cost to keep the park opened, safe and maintained.

“The cost for all is solely the Department of the Interior’s NPS, costs that the CNMI government is under no obligation to identify, appropriate, and use its own funds. Under this arrangement, we ought to be appreciative of the fact that our limited resources are and will be available to use for maintenance of our own parks and improvements of same. Any funds saved from not being responsible for the upkeep of another park might be used to develop pathways and bike paths, improve existing parks and develop new ones that could  be used for the annual events listed in the bill,” the mayor said.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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