Sugar Dock to be rebuilt


A man stands on a damaged portion of Sugar Dock as he tries his luck with fishing. Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) is pushing for the rehabilitation of Sugar Dock. (Jon Perez)

The Sugar Dock pier in Chalan Kanoa is set to be rebuilt, per the recommendation of a Guam historical architect.

In a stakeholder committee meeting yesterday, Guam historical architect Michael Laguana suggested the project to both House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan) and Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan).

The next course of action is, according to Sablan, to rebuild the pier.

Discussions with Laguana, according to Sablan, arose at the recommendation of the Historical Preservation Office, which is under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.

The Japanese-era Sugar Dock pier is no longer considered an active pier but it is a popular beach site, fishing site, and picnic ground for many residents. Its dilapidated structure has given way in many places, prompting safety concerns.

“[Demapan] and I are really concerned about [people’s safety in the area],” said Sablan, in response to a question why the stakeholder committee was formed for the dock.

The committee is composed of officials from the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Coastal Resources Management, Department of Public Lands, Department of Lands and Natural Resources, DCCA, HPO, and more.

“[The dock] poses a safety hazard to our people. A lot of people…have accidents in the area,” he said.

To be dubbed as the Sugar Dock project, Sablan emphasized that the rebuilding project won’t result in dismantling the historical significance of the dock.

Having planned and discussed of the rebuilding for over five months, Sablan said in order to rebuild the dock, federal processes and procedures must first be followed because of its historical significance.

“In those several meetings, James Pruitt of HPO recommended that we [utilize] the expertise of a historical architect,” he said, adding that DCCA was able to assist with communicating with Laguana.

According to Sablan, Laguana was able to assess the pier yesterday morning.

“[The committee] wants to repair the dock to make it safer, and because it has the defining features of a national historic landmark, there are some protocol that need to be followed,” said HPO staff archaeologist James Pruitt.

‘It is definitely in the millions’

When asked about the possible cost of the project, Sablan suspects at least $1 million.

“Maybe a little over $1 million or $2 million,” he said. “The speaker and I are looking at possible funding sources for the project.”

According to Sablan, one possible source was the annual casino license fee, where the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation gets $11 million. He mentioned that Demapan and he would lobby the delegation to support the project; however, he did not specifically disclose a funding source.

He reiterated that there were several possible sources of funding and insists that the project is a Commonwealth matter and not just a delegation matter.

“Fishermen from Tinian dock in the area, so it is not only a Saipan pier, but it is also used by the people of Tinian,” he added.

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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