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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Inos: $1.2M Navy Hill property officially back at DPL

The Navy Hill property that was once designated to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is now officially transferred back to the Department of Public Lands.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos confirmed this with Saipan Tribune Sunday, saying any and all transactions related to the property will now go through DPL as the proper administrator of public lands.

“The last time I checked…that property now belongs to DPL and whether it is for private or commercial development, it’s the DPL’s job to handle those matters,” Inos said during Sunday’s Republican Party get-together in Susupe.

When asked if the administration anticipated any problems in taking back the property, Inos replied: “There shouldn’t be a problem on that because that belongs to the government.”

Inos explained that the process of transferring the property back to DPL requires no complex involvement of possible court process as the Executive Branch can do a lateral transfer of property from one government entity to another.

“So as far as the administration is concerned, this thing has already been resolved and, yes, the Navy Hill property is now back at DPL,” he said.

It was in November last year when the Inos administration, through Attorney General Joey San Nicolas, conveyed the governor’s wish to have the property re-transferred to DPL.

It was in January 2012 when then-governor Benigno Fitial assigned the parcels of land on Navy Hill to the healthcare corporation as a means for it to raise revenue by opening the properties to leases.

The designated properties are Lot Nos. 098 D 04 and D 05, both adjacent to the hospital and totaling 38,500 square meters, with an estimated value of $1.2 million.

This same property is also encumbered due to the corporation’s line of credit with the Marianas Public Land Trust. CHCC had informed the MPLT board that it wants to renew for another year the $3 million line of credit after paying the principal of its existing loan by March 12 this year.

CHCC interim CEO Esther Muña acknowledged the impact of losing the Navy Hill property as a source of additional revenue for the public hospital.

"The loss of this asset for CHCC is significant. CHCC needs financial help as long as the government doesn’t pay for the indigent and the loss of Medicaid matching,” said Muña.

It will be recalled that in April last year, the CHCC board approved to offer for lease a portion of the designated public lands. The decision was reached following receipt of a proposal from Landscape Management Systems Inc. in Guam, which wants to respond to an announcement by the U.S. government’s General Services Administration. The board recommended that the corporation enter into an option to lease up to 10,000 square meters of the land.

GSA had announced that it is seeking to lease a property on Saipan where it can build a courtroom, administrative office, and law enforcement office. Landscape Management System, using CHCC property for its plan, wanted to respond to this announcement. A protest was later lodged by another interested party and a case is now pending in court.

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