The Commonwealth Development Authority’s offer of loaning $2.9 million for the construction of facilities for next year’s Micronesian Games is an option that is up for consideration, according to Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Juan L. Babauta.
“What they’re saying is that they can readily make that available amount to help build these facilities so we can prepare ourselves,” Babauta said during an interview yesterday. “That’s probably one course of action that we can consider, however, I’m not in a position to say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’”
Babauta said he still needs to discuss the issue with the governor and the Legislature.
He said if the road to constructing the needed facilities involves the loan, a repayment plan will need to be in place.
“We have to have a commitment of repayment,” he said. “I cannot commit myself. I’m just there to question funds, if at all possible. They’re saying we can prolong the loan throughout the year. We can have an outright loan right now for what we need so that we can start the construction of the facilities.”
Meanwhile, Babauta said he had earlier submitted a letter to the CDA board listing several financial options to shoulder the cost of the construction.
“I requested to give us an official letter responding to my earlier request, and from there we’ll act immediately and come out with some kind of a commitment if the governor or Legislature gives us a nod that ‘yes we will commit so and so dollars in the next 12 months for this,’” he said.
DCAA earlier asked the CDA for a $5.8 million funding for the regional sports event. Funding would be needed to renovate existing sports facilities and to construct additional facilities.
Meanwhile, Babauta remains optimistic that the construction of the proposed Olympic-size 50m swimming pool can still become a reality before the Games, which will be held from June 23 to July 7 on Saipan.
“Oh yes,” Babauta said. “The pool itself will take about seven months. Once we get the money available…we’ll stay on top of it and we got to make sure we go through the bidding process and also the selection of firms. It is a priority because of the length of time to build it.”
Construction of the new pool is estimated to cost about $1.793 million.
Division of Sports and Recreation director Tony Rogolifoi already said that the swimming venue currently used by the Saipan Swim Club—Kan Pacific Swimming Pool—is actually short by inches and does not meet the required standard.
“It is very important that we correct the discrepancies because it is going to affect the results of the swimmers…especially if they break records,” Rogolifoi earlier said.
Babauta also added that he is pleased that the House of Representatives passed House Bill 14-378, which aims to tap $550,000 from Managaha Landing fees to construct official grandstands at the Francisco M. Palacios Baseball Field and Miguel B. Pangelinan Softball Field, which are located at the Oleai Sports Complex. The bill is currently at the Senate.
“We hope we can get that thing straight away with the Senate,” Babauta said.
Next year’s Micronesian Games is expected to attract about 1,500 to 1,700 athletes, coaches and officials.