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Interior releases $9.6 million in FY17 infrastructure funding for American Samoa

Artist’s rendition of the proposed new Fono building, which according to the Interior should be a raised building, which will provide parking underneath the structure and mitigate flood hazards.  [SN file photo]
New Fono building and LBJ hospital renovations getting around $3 million
Source: Press Release, Office of Insular Affairs — Washington DC

Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Doug Domenech announced yesterday the release of more than $9.6 million in grant funding to American Samoa through the Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Program for fiscal year 2017, according to a press release.

 “We are happy to support Governor Lolo in his efforts to strengthen infrastructure in American Samoa through projects at the LBJ Hospital, two elementary schools, and the ports,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “New construction and deferred maintenance are among Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s priorities in infrastructure modernization. Such priorities are as important to the territories as they are to the mainland.” 

The following are line item explanations provided by the Interior- Office of Insular Affairs of the Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Improvement Projects that total $9,613,000.


— New Fono (Legislative Building): $1.8 million for a new building at the current site in Fagatogo, American Samoa. 

The proposed project will include demolition of the existing building, construction of a new two-story building adequate for Senate and House offices, respective foyers, conference rooms, and restroom facilities. Site improvements include landscaping, drainage, ADA accessibility and parking. The raised building will provide parking underneath the structure and mitigate flood hazards. 

Samoa News should point out that with this CIP amount plus the bond proceeds allocated to the new Fono building, the total amount so far identified to build it is $3.3 million, still short of the needed $5- $8 million projected to fund it.

Of interest, is the Interior’s explanation that the structure is to be ‘raised’ to allow for “parking underneath the structure” and to also mitigate flood hazards. This would be similar to the Development Bank building in Pago Pago, which is also located on a flood plain. The artist’s rendition of the proposed new building that Samoa News ran in its August 31, 2017 issue, shows the building as a ‘two-story’ structure with no indication of a parking lot “underneath the structure” — although it is “raised” to a certain extent.

The issue of the site being on a flood plain came to light publicly when the old Fono building was being demolished, and problems arose when clearing the site.


— Labor, Delivery, and Operating Room Renovation: $1 million to design and renovate the existing Labor Delivery room, and Nursery and Operating Suite. The new facility will satisfy health and safety deficiencies identified by Medicare-Medicaid Services surveyors. Construction and renovation projects for the hospital are projected to be ongoing in several phases through 2020.

Samoa News notes there has been no word on the request for a new hospital by the Lolo Administration, which was made late last year before the House Resources Committee, in Washington D.C.


— 3,000-Ton Slipway: $1 million

Funding is for continuation of the Slipway Project of which ASSSA was previously awarded $940,000 of CIP funding. The slipway is operating at a less-than-optimal level, down to 50% from 100%, forcing boat owners and commercial vessels to travel to other destinations for services. Funding will include removal of deteriorated components, procurement of materials and supplies, and testing.


— $1 million for dredging of the Faleasao Harbor

One of two harbors, located on the island of Ta’u, each harbor operates half of the year, depending on tides and the season. Because of the limited air travel to the islands of Manu’a, these harbors are critical to the transportation and passage of people and cargo. Dredging of Faleasao will ensure continued safe passage of the two vessels that operate between the capital of Tutuila and the Manu’a islands.


— $2.7 million for two new school buildings

Two-Story Building for Manulele:  $1 million to construct a new two-story building for Manulele Elementary School. The building will consist of six classrooms. Site improvements will also include landscaping, drainage, and ADA access.

Two-Story Building & Gymnasium for Matafao:  $1.7 million for a new two-story building and gymnasium for Matafao Elementary School. The project will include a new building consisting of six classrooms, landscaping, drainage, ADA access, and installation of a pre-fabricated metal gymnasium.


— Insular ABCs Initiative

$1 million in support of the Assessment of Buildings and Classrooms (Insular ABCs) Initiative, which provides technical assistance and an ABC Management Maintenance Team to work closely with the Department of Public Works.   


Tafuna Youth Center: $1.113 million to construct the Tafuna Youth Center

Mirroring services provided at the Pago Pago Youth Center, the project will be a prefabricated building with designated rooms/areas conducive to the recreational activities available to the public.  In addition to the indoor basketball/volleyball court, the facility includes a kitchen area, computer laboratory, sewing room, weight room, stage area, restrooms and office areas. Furniture and equipment will be acquired to for the new facility.