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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA allots over $3.3 million for municipal recovery projects in Barranquitas, Vega Baja

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated over $3.3 million to the municipalities of Barranquitas and Vega Baja to repair several recreational facilities that will benefit communities and visitors.

The allocations for damage following Hurricane Maria are aimed at addressing what are known as alternate projects. Alternate projects under FEMA’s Public Assistance program take place when a community benefits from a different project, as opposed to restoring the project to its original pre-disaster state.

“The needs of communities can change over time and our agency keeps this in mind when evaluating permanent projects with the municipalities,” said Deputy Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator Andrés García Martinó. “By working as a team, we strive to ensure that the works represent not only reconstruction but new and better opportunities for all the residents of our towns.”

The Calle Abajo Pablo Pérez Figueroa Community Center in Barranquitas is one of the projects under Public Assistance funds. What was previously a basketball court will now serve as a multipurpose space for around 200 families to celebrate social and educational activities, while strengthening plans to repopulate the urban area.

Meanwhile, Vega Baja also received obligations for two alternate projects. On the one hand, the basketball court, the baseball park and the butterfly garden for El Trece Recreational Area will be renovated, and new areas such as a hostel, a restaurant, a game room and a swimming pool will be built within the facilities. About $2.3 million will be addressed to these works, which will include mitigation measures for the baseball park and recreational park.

El Trece receives about 600 people during the summer season. Once the alternate project is completed, the municipality estimates that number could double, while also encouraging tourist visits to the area.

Likewise, the Puerto Nuevo Recreational Area and La Casona Kiosks in Vega Baja will be consolidated into better-quality facilities for citizens and tourists with the help of over $802,000 from FEMA. The space, which could create some 15 jobs, will have 14 kiosks, a concrete path, bike corrals and restrooms, aAmong other arrangements.

To date, FEMA has awarded over $30.6 billion for more than 10,700 Public Assistance projects aimed at rebuilding a more resilient Puerto Rico. Of that sum, more than $3.8 billion is earmarked for over 6,400 municipal projects throughout the island.

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