Park opening moved to early 2017

The soon-to-be-opened Puerto Rico Park is starting to grow grass as it awaits for final touches before being opened in early 2017. (Erwin Encinares)

The soon-to-be-opened Puerto Rico Park is starting to grow grass as it awaits for final touches before being opened in early 2017. (Erwin Encinares)

The opening of Puerto Rico Park has been moved to early next year from the original schedule of Dec. 25, 2016, according to Division of Parks and Recreation director Eli Cabrera and Office of the Governor public information specialist L.J. Castro.

According to Castro, Puerto Rico Park is now about 95 to 98 percent complete. It is just awaiting certain logistical preparations, final inspection of the entire park, and the signing of the final paper work.

“We are just making sure everything is complete and sound before we open up the park,” he said.

Castro also mentioned federal government transition, Typhoon Soudelor, and the 2016 rainy season as some of the minor contributing reasons for the delay in the park’s opening.

Cabrera said he is not privy to the reasons for postponing the park’s opening.

“I was told that the opening was postponed to February or March [but] I don’t know why,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera said that the Marianas Visitors Authority played a major role not only with Puerto Rico Park, but also for assisting Parks and Recreation.

“I get assistance from MVA. It usually depends on how much I ask, but whenever I ask, they are never hesitant to support me. When I request, I justify my request and they approve it—they are very supportive,” said Cabrera.

MVA managing director Chris Concepcion said he looks forward to the official opening of the park.

“The Marianas Visitors Authority has agreed to fund the electricity system for the Puerto Rico Park of up to $19,000. We are grateful for our partnership with Capital Improvements Project and others as we move this project forward toward completion,” he said.

“We envision this park as a prime recreation area right north of the tourist district of Garapan, where events can be held and community members can partake in various events held year round. It is easily accessible from Garapan by tourists and is also located right by the ocean with priceless views of the Saipan Lagoon and Garapan. We are excited about the eventual opening of Puerto Rico Park,” he added.

The groundbreaking ceremony last June 1, 2015, led by late governor Eloy S. Inos and former lieutenant governor Ralph DLG Torres, who is now the governor, officially started the conversion of the Puerto Rico Dump into the Puerto Rico Park.

This is one of the biggest federally funded Capital Improvement Project undertakings for the CNMI, with funding reaching $27 million.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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