To demolish or not to demolish? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

To demolish or not to demolish?

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 It appears officials are at odds over legislation to demolish the Manuel F.L. Guerrero Administration Building in Hagatna. About two years ago, both the Department of Education and the Department of Administration moved out of the downtown facility.

"Problems ranged from busted water pipes that sometimes left bathrooms inoperable, an old power box, slick steps that actually caused a death, and an elevator that didn't always work," said Governor Eddie Calvo. He noted in his weekly address that this "dilapidated building" has since sat unoccupied and unattended expect for a few homeless people. "My goal is to move our island forward," he stated. "That's why my team and I came up with a solution to the dilapidated building that has become a public health and safety concern."

That solution is demolishing the building and building a palasyo that would house various government offices and get rid of the need to pay for rent. The building is owned by the Guam Legislature. "That's why we reached out to work together with the Legislature, at least to those who don't want to place politics, to put this plan into action," Calvo said. The governor is referring To Vice Speaker BJ Cruz who has come out opposing Bill 32 introduced by Senators Rory Respicio and Tina Muna Barnes and Speaker Judi Won Pat. Cruz says while says he's against demolishing  the building, he is in favor of building the palace - an idea he says first came about while he was the legal counsel in former governor Ricky Bordallo's first term.

Cruz said, "They keep thinking the palace needs to take down the education wing at the Manuel Guerrero building; if anybody does their research they'll realize the footprint of the palace is only 145 feet and it starts at the left end of the Azatea. If you run 145 feet from the left end of the Azatea toward the education building, you will find there is still 20 feet leftover after the end of the 145 feet, so the two can coexist."

Cruz says he actually wrote the articles of association for the Palace Restoration Association of Guam in 1977. He says while the bill was introduced in late-January, it wasn't until after that an engineer was brought up to look into the building. "They weren't doing their research," the vice speaker said. "That's the problem with this whole thing." Cruz adds $30,000 a month in rental could be saved for the 10 senators who are outside of the Guam Legislature Building.

In his address, Governor Calvo criticizes the senators who oppose the idea as they could have helped ensure the building was maintained and didn't fall into disrepair, saying, "I ask him, why didn't you ensure that the building was maintained to the level it should be if you felt so strongly about it. Do you think that Governor Manuel F.L. Guerrero would be proud that his name is on that building?"

As for why it's taken so long? Cruz says it's about money - even today, he's not sure the funding for the project is even known. "Who is going to go out there and say we're going to build a palace and not build a school - Simon Sanchez (High School), or the palace?" he said.

Cruz says Department of Public Works director Glenn Leon Guerrero estimated the cost to be around $17 million. His office adds while the building is owned by the Guam Legislature, it is under the purview of the Committee on Rules chairman. In the meantime, while Bill 32 goes up for its second roundtable tonight, it has already been placed on the current session agenda.
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