DOC to reprogram funds for tourist site and Medical Plaza

The Department of Commerce has requested the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to reprogram $800,000 from the Community Development Block Grant CDBG) Program for purposes other than what they were approved for.

Close to $40,000 had been approved for the American Samoa Historical Museum Rehabilitation, $50 for the Tafuna Elementary playground and $761,291 is available in CDBG funds from FY2019 and FY2020.

DOC proposes to use $400,000 on phase 2 of the Turtle and Shark lookout at Vaitogi, and another $400,000 for a Medical Plaza at Lions Park.

Director of Commerce Petti Matila, explained that Phase 2 of the turtle and Shark lookout is a public park across from the lookout deck that’s now completed to include parking, shelters/gazebos, restrooms, and a pathway to connect the park and the lookout deck. She said, this is a community-based project, geared to provide a new and safe space for public use, while enjoying the beauty of the legend: Laumei ma le Malie.

The reprogrammed funds for the Medical Plaza at Lions Park is a design/build for public and private medical practice or healthcare related businesses. This project will be located on the housing side of the Lions Park development.

DOC through a notice published on their website had invited comments from the public before the reprogramming request was submitted to HUD.

Matila said, only one public comment was received although it came after the deadline,

“However, in the spirit of transparency, DOC still responded to the inquiry/public comment,” said the director.

“The concerns were focused on the current construction at Lions Park (picnic side) in which DOC is not the funding source,” she pointed out.

The Governor’s Chief of Staff Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola, whom our questions about the Lions Park construction were referred to, said that last month, the first phase of the recreational facilities, cost $1 million and will be a cost share between the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Governor’s Office, from the Economic Stabilization Fund.

This first phase includes the demolition of structures that were in the park like picnic tables, bathrooms and the old basketball court; with the new construction of several Samoan fale (which appear to be different sizes), new bathrooms, new play courts and rock walls.