As per tradition, the Taste of the Marianas Festival usually takes place at the American Memorial Park. This year, it is moving to the Garapan Fishing Base, due to compliance issues with the proposed spot for 2017.
In an email to Saipan Tribune, National Park Service superintendent Jim Richardson said that NPS, which operates the park, had expected the Taste of the Marianas Festival to be held at its usual spot, in the “hardened area.”
According to Richardson, the Marianas Visitors Authority, the government agency in charge of the Taste of the Marianas Festival, had proposed to change the festival’s venue just weeks before the festival.
“About two weeks ago MVA leaders for [Taste of the Marianas] proposed moving the location to the grassy area of the ball field. Their plan included six new power poles to be installed in this soft ground area,” said Richardson in the email.
Richardson said it was predicted that the ball field would be damaged by the event, even more so if it rains.
“A significant impact to a new area like this would require National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 compliance, which would need to be completed several months in advance,” he said.
NEPA is a law that requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of proposed actions prior to making decisions. Actions covered by NEPA include making decisions on permit applications, adopting federal land management actions, and constructing highways and other publicly owned facilities.
Section 106 review under the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 is a necessary step needed to be taken for projects that involve adverse impacts on a site or sites directly or indirectly that is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
Prior to announcing that the Taste of the Marianas would be held at the Fishing Base, NPS still expected the festival to be held at the AMP, “right up until we heard otherwise in the newspaper,” said Richardson.