Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority needs more help - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority needs more help

Posted: May 15, 2018 4:16 PM Updated:

One agency made a plea for help to senators during its budget hearing asking for more personnel to finally get projects going to restore and redevelop the island's capital. Growing frustration during the budget hearing today, as government officials admit almost every GovGuam agency is already struggling to exist.

The master plan has been out for years. But, the upgrades and rebuilding of Hagatna - not so much progress when it comes to proposed changes. Joseph Santos is with the Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority. He says he is the lone wolf when it comes to planned projects in the efforts to give the capital a facelift.

"We want to build a city but we want to make sure its not concrete. We want to make sure it's land beautified because we want tourist to look at Hagatna and look at what we have," he said.

The agency making a request before lawmakers for more staff to include a grant writer to bring in more funding. The authority currently gets its money from the Tourist Attraction Fund. Santos expressing frustration during an exchange of words with Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje.

"I don't understand why the legislature cannot correct the problem it cost by removing the funding source from the Hagatna restoration. We are only getting the taxes based on Hagatna, we are not asking for the entire island of Guam," he said. Terlaje noted, "I don't know why they did that but I know TAFF money is going towards the education." Santos said, "Please. You are insulting me senator...there's 8 million doing to DPW and other millions going to other agencies. Before the law was passed Hagatna Restoration was getting more than $2 million a year."

The Vice Speaker saying she would like to see at least one project done to justify the request for more. Santos says their cries for help have been ignored long enough, saying, "I am frustrated because my parents who lived here talked about how Hagatna used to be. It was the center of Chamorro culture and right now its Tumon that supposedly represents Guam, and it doesn't even represent Guam. You can go elsewhere and it's the same hotels and things that are there. Hagatna is your best bet to market our culture and provide an economic base."

He asked for greater enforcement authority to progress the master plan, as he admits he's been operating at bare bones since taking the job. While his request for more staff has been submitted to senators, both ultimately agreed to work together to make it happen. "I think outside of the box and the bottom line give me a little and I will give you a lot," he said.

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