Investors have been expressing an interest in leasing the Garapan Fishing Base, but the Department of Public Lands has said no to proposals, saying the site is reserved for community events.
DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo said her agency has been repeatedly urged to lease the Garapan Fishing Base property. However, she said that even before her time as secretary, it has been common practice to reserve the area for the community.
“The fishing base is the community’s recreational area,” said Teregeyo, adding that the site hosts numerous events like the Thursday Market, Flame Tree Festival, and recently the Taste of Marianas.
“Investors have been coming in with interests in the area and we haven’t entertained them because the fishing base is a public resource; that’s where the community gathers,” she said, indicating that DPL secretaries before her have consistently declined investment offers.
According to Teregeyo, it is a “matter of policy” to not entertain developments at the Garapan Fishing Base because of the lack of a land use plan to solidify “actual public resource areas.”
A land use plan is a master inventory of all public lands, including their types, usages, and zoning prohibitions. The land use plan also indicates ideal sites for homesteads, community recreational sites, and business development.
The land use plan includes Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands but excludes Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion as these are protected by the CNMI Constitution.
Teregeyo said DPL is “pushing back [investors] until the plan is in place,” without expounding whether DPL is open to negotiations or not. She added that with community input, the plan would “identify if the fishing base [would be locked in] as a public resource.”
Saipan Tribune learned last Wednesday that DPL has awarded SSFM CNMI, LLC a contract to spearhead the land use plan development project. Teregeyo claimed that prior to the awarding, back-to-back negotiations between SSFM and DPL occurred for two months before DPL felt comfortable with their offer.
Teregeyo told Saipan Tribune that a land use plan may be in place after a year.