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    Thursday, November 21, 2019-4:32:57A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park unveiled

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Friday unveiled the $29 million park in an area that used to be Saipan’s main dumpsite.

Except for the contractors who also attended the ceremony, it was the first time anyone had been on top of the 95-foot, 20-acre park facing Tanapag Bay and Managaha.

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, left, with first lady Dianne T. Torres, and the daughters of the late Gov. Eloy S. Inos unveil the new park’s proposed name.Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, left, with first lady Dianne T. Torres, and the daughters of the late Gov. Eloy S. Inos unveil the new park’s proposed name.
Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres presents a ceremonial key to acting Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Nikolao Pula during the unveiling of the Gov.  Eloy S. Inos Peace Park on Friday.  Photos by Emmanuel T. EredianoGov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres presents a ceremonial key to acting Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Nikolao Pula during the unveiling of the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park on Friday. Photos by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Torres expressed his intention to name the park in honor of his predecessor, the late Gov. Eloy S. Inos, as proposed by Rep. Angel A. Demapan in House Bill 20-56 which is pending in the Legislature.

The park will officially open to the public on April 1, 2017.

In his remarks, the governor commended his Capital Improvement Project Office, the contractors and federal partners, specially the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs for the completion of the park which is the final outcome of the Puerto Rico dump regulatory closure.

Acting Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Nikolao Pula joined the governor and other CNMI officials in the unveiling ceremony.

In an interview, Pula commended all those who worked hard to turn the dumpsite from an environmental hazard into a park.

“In some respects we can call this project a phoenix. It’s a [pile of] trash that turned into a park for people to enjoy,” he said.

“Looking at the green hills, Managaha, the lagoon and other scenery, this is really fantastic. It’s a wonderful park not only for residents to enjoy but also for the tourists,” said Pula who remembered “all the frustrations along the way” when the project was initiated following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrative order citing the CNMI government for discharging pollutants into U.S. waters.

“This project went through years of frustration because of the delays and some of the mandates,” added Pula.

“But this is a project that is well done, and to me it’s a success. I think the people and the leaders of the CNMI will surely enjoy the fact that we finally got it done after many years of work.”

At the end of his remarks when he expressed his intent to name the park after the late Governor Inos, Governor Torres became emotional. He remembered the day two years ago, when he and then-Governor Inos broke ground for the park’s construction.

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion said he was impressed by the park’s design. It is covered with lawn grass and surrounded by newly planted ironwood, monkeypod trees and coconut palms. The park also has pathways, ramps, a parking area, two pavilions, restrooms and gas vents.  

Concepcion said MVA will definitely add the park to its list of destinations to promote.

“Here you have a perfect view of Garapan, Smiling Cove Marina, Managaha and the lagoon,” he added. “This is a very nice location. It’s gorgeous up here. I am very happy with the results, and we are very pleased with the work of the governor’s office and OIA for the funding they put into it.”

He said MVA paid for the electrical wiring and other materials, amounting to $19,000, to provide the park with lights and power.

The Puerto Rico dump was originally a dock facility used by the U.S. military during World War II. As early as 1945, the military began dumping scrap metal into an unlined back water area. From 1953, the area was used as a municipal waste disposal site. Waste consisting of household and commercial refuse, construction debris, and garment factory waste was deposited in the dump.

In 1994, EPA issued an administrative order citing the CNMI government for discharging pollutants into the “waters of the United States.”

Due to lack of progress in resolving the issue, the CNMI government was fined $125,000 in Aug. 1997.

In 2001, the administration of then-Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio issued a request for proposals for the complete regulatory closure of Puerto Rico dump, “in conjunction with the construction of the Marpi Solid Waste facility and Lower Base transfer station.”

In 2003, the Marpi landfill opened and the Puerto Rico dump officially closed.

In 2005, EPA issued an administrative order, giving consent to proceed with the park project. Black Construction Corp. began construction in July of 2015.