A zipline project in Marpi was rejected by members of the Historical Preservation Office board on Friday due to its possible impact on the historical value of the area.
Voting 3-2, HPO board members rejected the proposal submitted by Saipan Adventure Tours; the company has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the governor in hopes of having it move forward.
“We have mixed feelings. We’re disappointed that despite our best efforts, the review board did not see it fit to concur to permit the zipline project,” said Robert Torres, the lawyer for Saipan Adventure Tours. “However, we do appreciate their time and effort in giving it fair consideration. We will review and determine whether to pursue the matter further or to end plans with the project.”
Adventure Tours offered a compromise, such as creating a visitor’s center with multi-media and interactive historical depictions of the area along with its history, limited hours between activities, ceasing activities during ceremonies or memorials, and maintaining environmental integrity in the area.
Adventure Tours initially sought out the Marpi area. After applying for a permit lease from Mt. Tapochau to the Gualo Rai area, the project was rejected by the Department of Public Lands. The zipline project now would have extended from the top of Suicide Cliff to the corner of Banzai approaching the Cow Town area—around a mile long. If constructed, it would have been a set of four lines, setting itself as one of the longest in the region.
HPO review board chair, Dr. Elizabeth D. Rechebei, said, “Why are we not educating our people about the historical significance of our island? …We have developers who want to help our economy and make business but our role in HPO is to balance everything for the long term.”
“It’s hard for me to just say yes, since it is good for us and they [Adventure Tours] are offering educational programs, but why aren’t we doing the educating now?” Rechebei added.