U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina yesterday approved $4.6 million grant funding for infrastructure related improvements in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, to include the Tinian Solid Waste and Recycling Transfer Station, the Rota Landfill, and various public schools in the CNMI.
A portion of the funding will also serve as a FEMA Cost Share for Typhoon Soudelor related damages. Earlier this year, $5 million was awarded to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. for Stipulated Order (SO) projects required by the U.S. District Court. All assistance is provided through the Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Capital Improvement Project Program.
“These funds will help improve long-standing maintenance issues in public schools and help address damage inflicted by the recent natural disaster Typhoon Soudelor,” said Assistant Secretary Kia’aina. “We are pleased to support Governor Ralph Torres as he works to address these important issues and advance waste management and recycling projects on Tinian and Rota.”
The Capital Improvement Project (CIP) grants include the following:
• Public School System – $1,000,000 for year two of the 4-year Insular Area Assessment of Buildings and Classrooms (Insular ABCs) health and safety initiative to address critical deferred maintenance issues in the CNMI’s public schools. Proposed projects include upgrade of fire alarm systems, emergency vehicle access, replacement of doors, windows, roofs and gutters, as well as plumbing upgrades. The Insular ABC’s is a partnership between the OIA and the Army Corps of Engineers which assessed every public school in the CNMI, created an analysis of general school conditions, and aggregated a detailed database of deferred maintenance needs and associated costs.
• Tinian Solid Waste and Recycling Transfer Station – $1,000,000 to construct a new sanitary and environmentally compliant solid waste transfer station facility which would also include ancillary services, such as separation of recyclables. The island of Tinian currently operates an open dump not compliant with the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality solid waste regulations and is under Administrative Order to be properly designed and built in accordance with federal and local regulations.
• Rota Landfill – $1,000,000 to modify the design of the existing dumpsite on Rota to comply with the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality’s Administrative Order and the Clean Water Act, thus eliminating health hazards associated with pollution and waste disposal.
• Cost Share Funding for Typhoon Soudelor – $816,376 to provide necessary funding for the matching requirement of Federal Emergency Management Administration Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation grant programs related to damages caused by Typhoon Soudelor.
• Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Program Administration – $669,550 to provide necessary funding for the continuation of the CNMI 702 CIP Program Administration in its 5th year under the Office of the Governor which is responsible for project implementation from inception to completion.
• Infrastructure Maintenance – $120,074 to the Office of Capital Improvement to fund critical maintenance needs of government infrastructure, enhance facility resistance to potentially severe weather effects and future disasters, improve useful life of public facilities, and purchase related necessary tools and equipment.
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. On behalf of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.