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FEMA obligates over $13 million to restore sports facilities


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Various sports facilities in Aguadilla, Aibonito, Barranquitas, Carolina and Toa Baja will be repaired thanks to an obligation of nearly $13.3 million in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


Some of the facilities are in the design and planning process, while work in others has already been completed.


“In addition to serving as places for personal and family recreation, many of these spaces function as distribution centers, shelters and meeting points in times of disaster,” said José G. Baquero, the federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico. “Seeing these projects underway helps to create resilient communities, which in turn gives back that sense of self-sufficiency to our people.”


Among the sports facilities that have already completed their repairs is the Germán Rieckehoff Sampayo Sports School in Carolina.


Here, funds were allocated to seal roofs, repair windows and doors, light fixtures and install acoustic ceilings, among other purposes.


Currently, a disbursement of over $680,000 is in process for the municipality by the commonwealth Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3).


Carolina Mayor José Aponte Dalmau, noted that the Sports School is part of the municipality’s system of complementary schools.


Founded in 1989 with only five sports, today it covers 18 disciplines and has impacted thousands of children, many of whom have excelled at the national and international level.

“With FEMA’s help and with the contribution made by the municipality, we have been able to give back to all those children and all those teachers, to the whole city, their Sports School so that starting in August they can continue to achieve their dreams,” the mayor said.


In Aibonito, meanwhile, the funds to repair 26 projects exceed $6.5 million and include improvements to the indoor basketball court in the La Plata neighborhood and the passive park at the Multiuse Center in the Amoldadero sector.


Both works were recently completed for the benefit of residents. Repairs are also being made to various sports and community facilities in the Villa Rosales neighborhood.


For Toa Baja, nearly $9.5 million was obligated to repair 31 sports facilities, including the basketball courts at Paseo Magdalena, Barrio Candelaria and Villa Olga, among others. These facilities will have their fences, lighting, roofs and bleachers repaired, in addition to other work.


“Each one of these spaces represents quality of life for our people and generates a positive impact, for which I am grateful for the work done to designate these funds, as well as the communication and coordination during this process,” said Toa Baja Mayor Bernardo “Betito” Márquez García.


Similarly, Aguadilla received an allocation of just over $2 million to repair the Paseo Real Marina, which runs a mile along the beach and is a space for runners and walkers.


“This project is very important for our municipality, as it impacts hundreds of citizens and visitors who come daily,” said Aguadilla Mayor Julio Roldán Concepción. “We are working on the bidding for the repair design, which will implement mitigation measures to prevent the affected elements from suffering damage again, adding life and development for fishermen.”


In addition, $1 million was awarded to repair the running track at the sports complex in the Barrancas neighborhood of Barranquitas.


COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said the reconstruction of the facilities contributes to the social development of Puerto Rico.


“Our island is recognized for the quality of its athletes,” he said. “Therefore, it is important to provide them with the necessary conditions and tools to achieve their goals. In addition to this new and important obligation of funds from FEMA, COR3 has disbursed to numerous municipalities over $40 million under FEMA’s Public Assistance category, which addresses the reconstruction of parks and recreational facilities.”

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