Hundreds of past and present island leaders and their families are expected to attend tomorrow's ribbon cutting ceremony to officially unveil the Saipan Leadership Memorial Kiosku to the community.
Project proponents and workers were at the memorial courtyard in Chalan Kanoa yesterday afternoon for a last-minute polishing and inspection of the kiosku.
The project, which has a price tag of over $551,000, features a roundhouse, memorial plaque, flagpoles, and a gift shop.
The roundhouse was built to honor 354 appointed and elected officials from Saipan and the Northern Islands during the Naval, Trust Territory, and Commonwealth governments. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant, which is administered by the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.
While the project was envisioned by the 10th Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council, it was the efforts by the 11th council that brought the memorial courtyard to fruition in a historical area that was once the center of social and political activities on the island.
Council chair Ramon B. Camacho said in an interview that the kiosku project is the first of its kind to recognize local leaders who played pivotal roles in the advancement of Saipan and the Northern Islands. The islands of Tinian and Rota also have courtyards paying tribute to their own leaders.
“A lot of families of the honorees were touched by this project because some of the honorees have passed away yet their legacy continues to remain through the memorial courtyard,” Camacho told Saipan Tribune.
Camacho said the logistics for Saturday's ceremony has been arranged in anticipation of the crowd that is likely to double or triple if family members of honorees are taken into consideration.
Given the limited space at the courtyard, honorees and their guests were instructed to park their vehicles in either of the two designated locations: the Mount Carmel Cathedral and the Hopwood Jr. High School.
There will be one shuttle bus at each location to transport guests to the memorial courtyard to witness the program. Vehicles of honorees and guests with disabilities will be allowed in the courtyard but only for loading and unloading.
“We have already communicated with police officers to control the traffic in the area this Saturday,” Camacho said.
Tomorrow's program will also feature the unveiling of the temporary banner bearing the names of the honorees since the pre-fabricated granite where the names are etched will be completed four months from now.
Camacho disclosed that the council is working with Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) to have the courtyard placed under the federal registry, protecting it from those who will tamper or vandalize any part of its structure.
Camacho noted, too, that they have yet to finalize the hours of operation for the courtyard. He said the fiscal year 2013 budget would dictate if they can hire full-time employees to man the kiosku but they're also looking at federal grants to help maintain the place.