MVA to solicit bids to create Zen garden


The Marianas Visitors Authority’s board of directors has approved the issuance of an invitation to bid to transform the Japanese Peace Memorial at the Banzai Cliff in Marpi into a tranquil Zen garden.

The project is estimated to cost between $950,000 and $1.2 million.

At the MVA board’s meeting Wednesday, MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo asked the directors to approve the announcement of an invitation to bid so they can solicit proposals for the project already. Iakopo said they have already the design and the scope of work.

When asked how much the project is going to cost MVA, Iakopo said, “We don’t know how much exactly the amount would be. Obviously, we’re hoping that we stay within budget,”.

When MVA director Chris Nelson reiterated his question about the estimated cost, MVA destination enhancement specialist Tatiana Babauta disclosed that it is estimated to cost from $950,000 to $1.2 million.

MVA chair Marian Aldan-Pierce said the project includes the realignment of the road, the pavement of the scenic area, and then landscaping. The existing restroom and the pavilion will remain there.

Aldan-Pierce said if the board approves the invitation to bid, it does not mean that MVA is committed to the project. She said the board can decide later whether or not they are going to move forward with the construction.

Iakopo suggested that it would be best to put a language in the announcement that the project may be cancelled due to non-availability of funds.

Aldan-Pierce agreed. The chair and other directors present—Warren Villagomez, Agida Quituga, Nelson, Thomas Liu, and Nick Nishikawa—approved the issuance of the invitation to bid without further discussion.

In a later interview, Aldan-Pierce said the Peace Memorial improvements is one of the projects that the board really wants to proceed with. Aldan-Pierce said it was their focus for 2019, but that they’re not going to move it until 2020.

“Because people go there. There’s a lot of memorial, a lot of historical things that happened there. And the way it is today is very stark and uninviting,” the chair said.

Aldan-Pierce said they would like to re-route the road going to the existing shrines. Where the road is today breaks that up, she said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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