The community will soon be able to enjoy nights at the Sugar King Park in Garapan.
As part of plans to brighten up the park at night and encourage nighttime strollers to visit the park’s vendors even at night, the Saipan Mayor’s Office is planning to replace the street lights at the park that were damaged when typhoons Soudelor and Yutu hit the CNMI.
Saipan Mayor’s Office special assistant Henry Hofschneider said that this is part of Mayor David M. Apatang’s efforts to make some improvements at the Sugar King Park.
The park has eight stalls that are being leased to vendors by the Saipan Mayor’s Office. One of those vendors is Filipino favorite Bitoy’s Barbecue.
“Now, we have a new vendor, Bitoy’s Barbecue. He used to operate in San Antonio, so he is contacting his old customers. His barbecue [stand]was damaged by the typhoon, and he has not opened since, until now,” Hofschneider said.
A few years ago, the mayor’s office invited anyone wishing to occupy the small stalls to open shop at the park, but did not get any response. The stalls have not been used until recently, with Apatang giving the directive to put the stalls to use.
The facility was built through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
All eight stalls are currently occupied. There is no rent for now. The rent is offset by the out-of-pocket expenses the vendors (tenants) incur to renovate what needs to be fixed inside.
“The arrangement with them would be that they enter and they renovate, whatever they need to renovate inside the stalls,” Hofschneider explained.
“Since construction was done about a year and a half ago, it has never been used. Since 2008, I think after the ribbon-cutting to 2018, or late 2017, none of the stores was ever used. So the water faucet, fixtures, and the water heaters in there all have to be replaced.”
The term of use for the stalls is only for 18 months at a time. After 18 months, the Office of the Mayor will evaluate the demand for the stall. If there are many demands, the office will notify the current tenant that a bid will be put out so the current tenant can also bid for the stall.
“The permit is just temporary, and we can revoke the permit anytime,” Hofschneider said. “We are going to look for different concessions, different items, and the best offer. It’s not going to be strictly monetary. We’re going to look at what they can offer the visitors to the park. It is going to be a different bid than just money.”
Each tenant is also required to comply with all the pertinent requirements, including the acquisition of permits and hooking up to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. They are required to get a building occupancy permit, a zoning permit, a Bureau of Environmental Health food handling permit, fire permit, among others.
Each stall is metered so tenants have to pay the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. for the connection fee and pay for their own monthly use of water, power, and sewer.
Other improvements to the park are in the pipeline, Hofschneider said, in recognition of the fact that, as new vendors come in and hold stalls at the park, they also bring in their customers to the area and get them to enjoy Sugar King Park’s amenities.
“Come and visit the park,” Hofschneider said. “Enjoy what the vendors have to offer. It is there for everybody.”