The Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation has identified options that could pave the way for the reopening of the Olympic-sized pool in Marpi.
On top of the list is the utilization of the $300,000 grant made available by the Federación Internacional de Natación Amateur (FINA)—the sport’s world governing body where the NMISF is a member.
However, there are conditions attached to the grant, as reported by Northern Marianas Sports Association executive director Carline Sablan during the NMSA’s meeting last Thursday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan. Sablan, in citing information provided by NMISF, said the financial assistance from FINA will be available only if “there is conveyance of the property for at least 10 years to a government agency like the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and for NMSA or the swimming federation to operate and maintain the pool.”
The Kan Pacific Saipan Ltd. used to operate the 50-meter pool for nearly 40 years before the facility closed in October 2018 as the company’s lease agreement with the Department of Public Lands for the Marpi property, including the Mariana Resort & Spa, expired.
The DPL has since opened the bid for a new lease agreement on the property and received six applicants/investors when deadline for submission of bids expired last Oct. 16.
NMSA and NMISF will make a follow-up with DPL on the received bids, as having an investor to operate the pool is another option for reopening the facility.
The investor will have the pool accessible to the public as a public benefit contribution, just like what Kan Pacific did or the company can match the $300K that FINA is offering to improve the pool according to international standards.
NMISF added there is also the option for the pool property to be parceled out and allot $150,000 for the temporary fix of the facility to make it accessible to swimmers until another pool is built. There is a proposal to build a swimming pool facility at the Oleai Sports Complex through the $20-million Economic Development Administration grant.
When considering either the parceled out or matching fund option, still the property should be conveyed to a government agency and either NMSA or NMISF must be in charge of the operation of the facility.
NMSA said they and NMISF will continue coordinating with DPL to find ways to reopen the Marpi pool, which was last cleaned of debris and stagnant water in February and is now filled with murky water anew, while bushes are beginning to grow around the facility.
With the pool closed for a little over two years, CNMI swimmers, who consistently delivered medals for the Commonwealth in various regional competitions, are left with no choice but to train in private/small pools and open water.