FEMA obligates $1.2 million for renovations at Isla de Cabras
By The Star Staff
To help preserve natural resources damaged by Hurricane Maria, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allocated over $1.2 million to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) for repair work at the Isla de Cabras recreational facility in Toa Baja.
Some of the work to be performed at the national park, where the Fortín San Juan de la Cruz, a UNESCO historic site, is located, includes the replacement of the pavement, the aluminum roof and a wooden terrace. In addition, electrical components such as lighting throughout the facility will be repaired, and painting of the complex will also be completed with the federal funds.
“Open spaces like this one are of great value to Puerto Ricans because they provide a place for leisure and enjoyment for everyone,” said FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator in Puerto Rico, José G. Baquero. “Likewise, with these funds we are helping to protect areas with access to the important natural resources that our island possesses.”
The Isla de Cabras facilities to be repaired were built between 1990 and 2004 and include greenery and playgrounds, an administrative office, several gazebos, a boat ramp and a beach area. The emblematic islet, located at the entrance of San Juan Bay and forming part of the Palo Seco neighborhood, has one of the widest views of the Bay and Old San Juan and encompasses a great historical legacy.
Angelina Morales Pérez, acting assistant secretary of the DNER’s National Parks Program, said the park receives about 60,000 visitors annually, and the FEMA funds will allow the facility to return to full operating capacity for the benefit of the community.
Of the total funds, about $79,000 was earmarked for hazard mitigation, so that the facilities will be better prepared for future disasters. Some of the mitigation work includes the installation of riprap to secure the surrounding embankment and geogrid to reinforce the subsoil. Concrete drains will also be retrofitted to handle excessive water runoff and exterior panels will be installed to protect windows, among other mitigation measures.