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Maeata’anoa confirmed unanimously for Parks and Rec

reporters@samoanews.com
Department of Parks and Recreation director-nominee Maeata’anoa Pili Gaoteote during his confirmation hearing Tuesday before a Senate committee. He was later confirmed by the Senate in a 17-0 vote while the House confirmed him yesterday in a vote of 18-0. [photo: FS]

Maeata’anoa Pili Gaoteote was confirmed as Director for the Department of Parks and Recreation in the House of Representatives in am unanimous vote of 18-0 yesterday. He was also confirmed in the Senate with a unanimous vote, on Tuesday.

HOUSE HEARING

Cleaning of public parks, having a public park in Aunu’u, and the Fagatogo Malae were among the issues raised by representatives during his confirmation hearing Tuesday morning before the Public Works/Parks and Recs committee, chaired by Rep Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava.

Rep. Puletu Koko noted that he understands that Maeata’anoa is more than qualified for this post, however he urged the Director to keep the public parks, not only for the public use, but also for tourists who are visiting the territory.

Rep. Fatulegae’e Mauga who was the fourth faipule to be given the chance to ask questions of Maeata’anoa, instead motioned to excuse the witness and the motion was seconded by other faipule. However, the Chairman allowed other faipule to continue to question Maeata’anoa.

Rep. Talaimatai Elisara Sua noted that there are many public parks on Tutuila Island, yet that is not the case with Aunu’u. The Aunu’u faipule asked the witness if there is any anticipation that the government is looking at having a public park for Aunu’u Island.

Maeata’anoa, replied that if there is property available in Aunu’u for a public park, the Department of Parks and Recs is willing to assist in that area.

Re. Taotasi Archie Soliai then asked him as to what are his plans are, once he becomes director.

Maeata’anoa, said he’s looking at having programs that can assist the public schools, given that are using the public parks for practices because they don’t have any fields on their school premises. He further expanded on role the department in government, and the need for equipment to carry out their work of maintaining and repairing the parks.

The first issue — assisting public schools — he said this has been raised with the governor and they will be seeking Fono approval for funds to make these programs possible. Maeata’anoa said the governor informed him that the government will not be in charge of the Capital Improvement Funds (CIP) rather, it will be the legislature who will oversee these funds and this would be a good opportunity for the department to seek funding to conduct the programs.

The issue of the department’s role in the government, Maeata’anoa said he hopes that the Golf Course and the Veterans Stadium will be returned to Parks and Rec. He added that when they were moved from the Parks and Recs (to the Sports Complex) the equipment was also taken away, and currently they have none to carry out their duties pertaining to cleaning the public parks. He noted that there is still the need for cleaning equipment in the department.

Maeata’anoa Rep. Maugaoali’i Sipa Anoa’i brought up an ongoing issue he sees — that of vehicles parked on the Fagatogo Malae, and stated this should stop. He asked Maeata’anoa to look into what Parks and Rec can do about this problem, pointing out that it has been eight years since lights were installed on the Fagaotogo Malae, yet they don’t work.

Regarding the Fagaotogo Malae, Maeata’anoa said the problem there is that several offices oversee the property. For example, the Pavilion is overseen by the Department of Commerce, the public restroom next to it is overseen by Public Works, and the lights on the malae are supposed to be managed by the Sports Complex.

As for the Fale Samoa in Utulei, the proceeds go to Samoan Affairs, and yet the maintenance is done by Parks and Rec.,making it seem like they are only housekeepers said Maeata’anoa.

He said that Parks and Rec should be the one office to oversee the public parks, Fagatogo malae and the Fale Samoa.

He added that most of the time, he seeks assistance from the Department of Public Safety to clear all the private vehicles that are parked on the malae, yet a majority of the time it’s those who work for the police station who park their vehicles there.

Maeata’anoa said they are looking at obtaining funds to buy chains to surround the malae.

Maeata’anoa has been with the department for a total of 12 years, since 2001.



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