$500,000 for Rota gym earmarked in FY11 appropriation

Jul 8, 2010

Saipan, MP — Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan says that $500,000 for the Rota gym has been recommended as a congressionally directed appropriation, or “earmark,” in the coming fiscal year. On July 1, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development marked up its fiscal 2011 bill and included funds for renovations to the gymnasium at the request of Congressman Sablan. The Subcommittee mark-up now moves to the full House Appropriations Committee for approval before going to the floor for a House vote.

“The Subcommittee action is just the first step in the formal legislative process that will eventually appropriate all of the Federal Government spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1,” said Sablan.

“But, of course, I was very encouraged that Chairman Olver and the rest of the Subcommittee members honored the request to provide funding for the Rota gymnasium. As Rota residents know well, repairs and renovation of the gym are severely needed.”

Sablan won 7 earmarked appropriations for the Northern Mariana Islands last year, his first in Congress. The earmarks were worth $1.35 million.

“The $500,000 earmark for the Rota gymnasium, which the Subcommittee is recommending, is twice as much money as our largest earmark last year,” he said. “Last year’s largest earmark was $250,000 for the Chamorro and Refaluwasch language programs at the Public School System.”

The gymnasium funds would be awarded to the Rota Municipality. The grant would be governed by the terms of the Economic Development Initiative program and overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sablan began the FY 11 earmark process over 7 months ago. He solicited requests for funding needs from local organizations and government agencies in December 2009. After working with the groups to refine their proposals, Sablan submitted the congressional requests to the Appropriations Committee in March 2010.

“The Rota gymnasium project was actually suggested to us by the Rota Legislative Delegation and Rota Leadership. Our local congressional office on Rota told me also that conditions are so poor they have to run an extension cord from the high school cafeteria to the gym so it can be used for school activities, I knew we had to do something. 

“So I submitted the request on behalf of the Rota Municipality.

The facility is the only public gymnasium on Rota. It was built in 1988 and is situated on the campus of Rota High School.  It is used by elementary, middle and high school students for physical education and indoor sports activities.  

The gym is also used by the general public and hosts several local sports leagues.  

Over the years, however, the gym fallen into disrepair. Yet, despite its unsafe condition, it is still in daily use, because there is no alternative facility on the island of Rota.

“The restrooms, shower rooms, offices and plumbing and electrical systems need repairs.  Floor tiles, paint, lockers, bleachers, lighting, doors and equipment also all need to be replaced.”

Sablan said he was grateful to Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey and Subcommittee Chairman John Olver for their positive response to the needs of Rota. 

“I credit this positive action by the Subcommittee not only to the good working relationship we have been able to establish with the Chairmen, and with Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Jose Serrano, and other members of the Subcommittee, but also to the importance and validity of the proposal for Rota.”

While having the funding request in the Subcommittee markup is a major step in the process of attaining congressionally directed spending items, there are still no guarantees. The Subcommittee action was only the first formal step in a long process of legislative procedures.  Next for the appropriation is approval by the full Appropriations Committee, which usually occurs before the August congressional recess.