Fight for Preservation

April 16, 2011

A temporary victory to preserve the natural beauty of Marpi, a historic and scenic landmark, was issued by Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo.

The Friends of Marpi filed a lawsuit to stop the construction of huge power poles that are supposedly being erected to provide power to a public cemetery and Veteran's Cemetery in the area. Judge Govendo issued a restraining order until April 29th when an evidentiary hearing will be held.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the CNMI government, Coastal Resources Management, CRM director Rita Chong, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Historic Preservation Office, Office of the Governor, Capital Improvements Projects Office, CIP director Virginia Villagomez, CUC, and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Melvin Faisao.

The Friends of Marpi group includes members Ruth Tighe, Tina Sablan, Glen Hunter, and Suzy Kindle. They are represented by attorney David Banes. A petition to stop the construction of the poles was launched on March 29, 2011.

The lawsuit stated that the CNMI government installed power poles in the area recognized as a U.S. national historic landmark without conducting a public hearing.

CNMI AG Buckingham refused to comment except to say that such "cases are best tried in a courtroom and not in the media," according to the Saipan Tribune.

The Saipan Tribune reported that an alternative power source was not considered even though the Marianas Visitors Authority opposed the construction. Underground wires, wind or solar generated power could be used as alternatives. Proposals by concerned citizens, including Ruth Tighe and Tina Sablan were ignored or dismissed.

Marpi is a scenic and much-visited tourist area that includes Banzai and Suicide Cliffs, World War II memorials, the Grotto, and views of Bird Island. It is breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of less than 2,500 sites designated as a National Historic Landmark. I am surprised that the project, funded by Capital Improvement Project funds, was approved.

It seems ridiculous the scar such a beautiful area with unsightly power poles when there are so many alternatives. This action is the perfect example of the message in the song, Take Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot.

It is suggested that the power poles are a sign that development in the pristine area is sure to follow. Tina Sablan was quoted by the Marianas Variety as stating that the poles are a sign of future commercialization of the area:
“The more we learn about the power pole project currently underway in Marpi, the more we are convinced that it is about so much more than just electrifying a few lights and water pumps for the public cemetery."
Sign the petition to oppose the construction HERE.


Anonymous said...

Wait, development? With a collapsing economy and everyone fleeing the island? What's the market value of one of these Marpi homesteads, maybe $50 a month? Or no one will want them even for free if gas goes up to $6, $7, $8. Thi is not even a smart vote-buying move.

Anonymous said...

Homestead houses in Marpi?! How crazy is this? Let's just shoot our economy in the head and be done with it.