The construction of the new San Vicente Central Park a few meters across San Vicente Church aims to restore the area’s identity by recreating the iconic San Vicente road house pavilion that was demolished eight years ago to give way to highway development.
This project is made possible by the joint efforts of the Office of the Governor, Northern Marianas Housing Corp., Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse, and the Department of Public Works.
At the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the San Vicente Park is important to him personally. “This has been a long-time vision… this park is not only for the children but more so for the elderly who grew up here and has made the San Vicente park a part of their lives.
“…We turned in the grant application five to six years ago, I just want to thank all the departments that made this a reality,” he said.
“This park is not only ours but for the whole community, so everyone please take ownership. When constructions starts…make sure that the project finish[es] in a timely fashion,” he added.
Mary Ann Arriola, grants manager from the Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse, said the construction of the new project was in pursuit of revitalizing the existing San Vicente community park.
“Back in 2011, then-senator Ralph DLG Torres initiated an exploratory research together with the 17th House speaker Eli Cabrera for a proposed central community park in the village of San Vicente. Preliminary development ensued, which resulted into a vision of a place where members of the community can peacefully assemble, be close to nature and take care of their health while enjoying a safe outdoor ambience and partnership with members of the village including the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Jacob Muña, planning officer of the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., said that the project was funded by the Community Development Block Grant program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“When the grant was approved, we sent a letter to the Governor’s Office on June 28, 2016, stating that the project from the Office of Grants and Management was selected. From then, the OGM began working with Department of Public Works to begin the creation of the paths,” he added.
During her presentation, Arriola explained that the first phase of construction cost was estimated at $475,691 and the contractor, Success International Construction, was given 180 days completion time.
“The project aims to provide a safe, accessible, educational recreational and learning opportunities for villages’ adults, youths, and man’amko. This park project also aims to construct modern and innovative park amenities such as park entrance signage, landscaping, barbecue pits, park benches, lamp posts, children’s playground equipment, concrete round house pavilion, youth center building as well as new asphalt parking lot, drive way, and concrete walkway,” she said.
“The fun part is that the children will be provided new playground equipment for them to enjoy and use for exercise in a safe environment. This place is also important for children to develop strong friendships… and for children to have opportunities to enrich their childhood.” she added.
Crystal Cabrera, from the Technical Services Division of the Department of Public Works, said the park shall have a commercial grade playground with innovative equipment to accommodate children of all ages and of all abilities.
“Being a mother of two small children, I am passionate for the need to develop social and communication skills at a very young age. This playground is specifically designed with every intention of providing a safe place for sensory development of children of all abilities and all walks of life,” she added.
Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), who was present at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the revitalization of the park is an accomplishment.
“I grew up here so it’s a place very dear to my heart and so we have been pushing for the rehabilitation of this particular area and then, just recently, we were able to get legislation through and designated this as a community park by a bill introduced by former [representative] Tony Sablan,” he added.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said this would also help the San Vicente Church. “This is a good idea for the community of San Vicente and Dandan and even around the island. …It will be helpful to church activities as well and the village fiesta.”