Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 18 Jan 2018 12am







    Wednesday, January 17, 2018-4:30:26P.M.






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Governor: We don’t need 10,000 hotel rooms at this time

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres said on Thursday only 2,000 hotel rooms will be added to Saipan’s inventory right now.

Appearing before the Current Issues class of instructors Barry Wickman and Guadalupe Borja-Robinson at Northern Marianas College, Torres was asked if there was a plan to build 10,000 additional hotel rooms on Saipan.

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres was the guest speaker on Thursday of the Current Issues class of instructors Barry Wickman and Guadalupe Borja-Robinson at Northern Marianas College.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

He said Imperial Pacific made that proposal “a couple of years ago,” but the plan is still on hold.

“We are not approving the 10,000 rooms at this time. We only approved what is in the law, which is 2,000 rooms,” Torres said.

The governor also spoke about the Saipan casino, the military’s proposed live-fire training exercises, the CW and related immigration issues.

The students asked him about President Donald Trump, birth tourism and marijuana legalization.

The governor said the most difficult task is determining how much growth the commonwealth needs and when does one say that it’s enough.

He said it is the government’s duty to ensure that available infrastructure can accommodate the number of tourists and investors coming to the island.

“Of course we don’t want an unlimited number,” he said. “So we will make sure that proposed investments will still fit our island, and our environment and culture are not compromised.”

Regarding birth tourism, the governor said the CNMI no longer controls immigration so it’s up to federal authorities to look into the issue.

Taking his turn to throw questions, the governor asked the students if they agree to transferring Garapan Elementary School to another location, and if they were in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Torres didn’t say if he supports the GES relocation but added that there is such a proposal because Garapan is now zoned as a business district.

He said there are similar investment proposals for the former La Fiesta Mall as well as in certain areas in Tanapag and San Roque, but nothing is definite yet.

After an hour-long discussion, the students thanked the governor for an informative meeting.

“I think it shows that he does care for the people and that he is aware of how the people feel about the issues going on in the CNMI,” said Liza Dowez, 20, a graduating student.

“Yes, I learned a lot. (The governor) answered a lot of our questions and he considered our views so we are really thankful for him coming in,” said another student, Jody Ogo, 20.

NMC instructor Barry Wicksman said it was “a very wonderful presentation and experience for the students.”

He added, “This is a class of seniors and the governor’s presentation was excellent and he responded to most of the questions. I would say that the governor has established a very personal connection with the students and it’s wonderful.”

Wicksman said “we are honored that (the governor) accepted our invitation. He has a very busy schedule but he shared some of his time with the students. He let them know that their voices are heard and that their government is very much accessible.”