Oleai repair to push through


The dilapidated windows at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium are awaiting repairs after sustaining significant damage from Super Typhoon Yutu last year. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

Despite the impending closure of the Oleai Sports Complex, the facility will still undergo repairs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has assured the Northern Marianas Sports Association that they will give the go-ahead for the renovation of the Oleai Sports Complex in time for the CNMI’s hosting of the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.

According to NMSA executive director Tony Rogolifoi, FEMA officials will issue a notice to proceed for the project to fix the dilapidated sports complex that will be the main hub for the quadrennial event.

“As for the timeline, we don’t know yet, but they are definitely going to come in and do the restoration of the facilities at the complex to prep for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games. Because we sustained damage from two storms and we have not started the restoration work because of the insurance situation with FEMA, they want to make sure that everything is in place before they issue the notice to proceed,” Rogolifoi said.

The NMSA executive director added that funding is there and has already been reserved for the project. Currently, NMSA is just waiting for FEMA’s green light so the association can issue a request for proposals.

Who will oversee the repair work?
Despite the inkling of good news from FEMA, Rogolifoi said worries remain about whether NMSA will even be overseeing the renovation and overall maintenance of the facility next year.

NMSA did not receive allocation from the budget approved for fiscal year 2019-2020 yesterday, leaving the association with less than $50,000 to manage the facility and pay its staff.

“The governor is going to fund the 2021 Mini Games, that’s OK, but my worry is the preparation of the facilities, especially with FEMA coming in,” Rogolifoi said.

The NMSA official said they could still run the facilities for free for a month or so with assurance that a new funding source will be sought out for the maintenance of the facility.

“That’s my recommendation, to run it for free temporarily, until we can find some money and that’s what they’re doing up there, they’re trying to identify funding to run at least one more year just so we can prepare the facilities and get it ready for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, “ Rogolifoi said.

The CNMI Sports Hall of Famer added that if the renovation process begins next year, the facility may be available before 2021.

“We’re still waiting, so hopefully we can start something sooner than later because we’ve been telling them (FEMA) that we need the facilities restored back to standard because of the 2021 Games. We’re running out of time, if they start maybe by next year, the facilities should be done and ready before the 2021 Games,” Rogolifoi said.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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