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FEMA allocates nearly $5 million for restoration work at Bayamón city hall


Utuado City Hall

Part of $28.5 million for administrative centers in 55 towns


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated nearly $5 million for renovations at the Bayamón city hall complex, which includes the municipal assembly and the Braulio Castillo Theater.


The allocation includes over $3 million for risk mitigation measures to seal roofs and anchor air conditioning equipment. Other repairs such as lighting upgrades and electrical system components have been completed.


The funds are part of an overall $28.5 million allocation directed at 55 city halls across the island.


“The mayor’s offices are the letters of introduction of the municipalities and are buildings of great historical value,” said José G. Baquero, FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator in Puerto Rico. “Through these FEMA funds, we hope to impact 55 city halls.”


Also, over $832,000 was obligated to the Municipality of Vega Baja to repair its historic mayor’s office, which dates back to 1924 and is about to celebrate its centenary. Vega Baja Mayor Marcos Cruz Molina said the obligations and the repairs are part of the city’s economic development and direct service to citizens.


“That is why it is important to keep it in the urban center and that our visitors enter a building that complies with all safety and health codes,” Cruz Molina said.


Meanwhile, another six city halls will be repaired from earthquake damage, including in Mayagüez, Peñuelas, San Germán and Ponce, along with the mayors’ offices of Sabana Grande and Utuado, which between them house over 300 years of history.


The repairs in Utuado will provide a space where residents can go to receive medicine and services for people who are bedridden.


“Residents need to be provided with continuous aid,” said Ineabel Medina, a resident of the urban area of the municipality, describing the importance for her of the mayor’s office being renovated.


In addition, under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), over $508,000 was designated to the Municipality of Moca for the rehabilitation of its mayor’s office, and another allocation went to Municipality of Arroyo. HMGP funds are directed toward taking key actions to reduce loss of life and property from future events.


At Moca City Hall, the structure will be modernized to meet current building codes and the building’s structural system will be reinforced to improve its resistance to hurricanes and earthquakes. There, for example, Municipal Revenue Collections Center services are offered, as well as services from federal programs such as Housing Link and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, commonly known as COR3, among others. At present, the improvements are in the design phase.


In Arroyo, the annex building of city hall, where the Emergency Operations Center is based, will be waterproofed to improve its resistance to flooding.


“City halls are the first place that people visit to look for assistance and services,” COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said. “The repairs to these government centers will give structural resiliency to allow for the functioning of the offices during emergencies in benefit of the population.”

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