Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 24 Mar 2018 12am







    Friday, March 23, 2018-12:53:09A.M.






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Regent tells NMC to move quickly with gym project

NORTHERN Marianas College regent Zenie P. Mafnas, in an interview, said if NMC fails to move quickly on the construction of its new gym, it may have to return the federal grant allotted for the old gym.

She said the original gym, before it was destroyed by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, was built through the federal Community Development Block Grant which is administered by the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.

The gym cost about $2 million, and was built 20 years ago.

In a recent report to the board of regents, NMC President Carmen Fernandez said the architectural and engineering-design contract has been signed by the college and a design firm.

She said the blueprint and other plans will be finalized in two to three months. “We will submit those to the board for review before we submit them to [the grantor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency].”

“The college is moving quickly with the rehabilitation and expansion of the gymnasium,” Fernandez said.

The bidding process, she added, will take about 90 days. “At first we were looking at its completion in May of 2019 but we are a bit behind. We have difficulty with [the request for proposals] for the contractors. We are a few months behind schedule,” she said.

Mafnas said “all CDBG-funded facilities should be put into use. NMC needs to make sure that the gym is renovated so that we are not wasting the CDBG funds.”

She urged Fernandez to work with FEMA or contractors and have the gym renovated before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pays the island a visit again. The CDBG is a HUD program.

Mafnas said HUD visited NMC last year. “They understood that Typhoon Soudelor happened, but NMC must show it is now rehabilitating the gym so that it is ready for public access.”

She added, “HUD did not say they have a deadline. But they did urge the college to renovate as soon as possible. If they do pay a visit this year, I am not sure what the result is going to be. We need to do it as soon as possible.”

“We understand there’s a contractor issue, but we need to make the best effort to rehab the gym and put it into use,” she said. Otherwise, she added, NMC could be asked to reimburse the original grantor agency.