Plan to make Garapan world-class destination in the works

Posted on Dec 23 2019

If plans push through, Saipan could join the ranks of Fiji, the Maldives, and Maui as a world-class destination offering the best beach adventure and island-life experience.

Plans to revitalize Garapan is being spearheaded by the CNMI Office of Planning and Development, under the Office of the Governor, with a vision to convert the CNMI’s tourist mecca into a family-friendly destination.

“Garapan has the potential to turn into a world-class destination and can rival some of the world’s most famous shoreline areas,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said. “We are hard at work to address concerns with utilities, capacity, water flow and quality through OPD’s overall comprehensive planning efforts. We are very excited for a big 2020 for the CNMI.”

Changes that are being planned by OPD and the Garapan Revitalization Task Force include increasing the number of parking spaces, a review of existing regulations for fire lanes and traffic flow, management of critical flood protection issues, and sewage, drainage, and electrical system upgrades.

To make walking and public areas safer, OPD, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and the Department of Public Works have already replaced and relit 37 streetlights throughout Garapan.

OPD director Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong admits that economic growth in the CNMI is facing a number of critical challenges exacerbated by Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut.

Prior to the typhoons, OPD has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to kick off the implementation of the Smart, Safe Growth guidance framework funded through the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.

“One of our aims is to protect our natural resources and position future development to account for the fact that we live in an area prone to devastating natural disasters, rapid technological and digital development, climate change, and other challenges,”Ogumoro-Uludong said.

The plan for Garapan also includes the creation of the first Community Improvement District in the CNMI, modeled after the successful improvement district established in Waikiki, which is hoped to be a catalyst for further changes and improvements throughout Garapan.

“We are in the process of securing federal funding to overhaul and rehabilitate Garapan Core,” OPD deputy director Chris A. Concepcion said. “We look forward to seeing our plans finally become a reality for residents and visitors to enjoy. If approved, we will see Garapan transformed into the world-class destination it rightfully is.”

Members of the community who want to prove input on priorities and initiatives to support sustainable development in the CNMI may complete OPD’s survey at

For more information, visit or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @CNMIOPD.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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