By The Star Staff
Guánica Mayor Ismael “Titi” Rodríguez Ramos welcomed Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón to the southwestern coastal town on Monday to observe the status of reconstruction projects four years after the earthquakes that struck Puerto Rico in early 2020.
“The mayors of the south are making a fair demand for additional attention to the issue of the reconstruction of our towns,” the mayor said. “Excessive bureaucracy is harming all communities. We receive this new year 2024 with hope, but firm in our claim.”
Rodríguez Ramos added that “just as today we welcomed the visit of González Colón, we are going to receive all the state and federal officials who can help us move the wheel of bureaucracy.”
“The examples are there,” he said. “The only high school in our town, Áurea Aquiles, is inoperative and we are still waiting to be informed if it will be demolished or rebuilt. The country should know that as early as February 2020, engineers from the Public Buildings Authority (AEP) had recommended demolition. That is so that they have an example of the validity of our approaches.”
Other projects that will contribute to the tourist development of Guánica include the remodeling of the Malecón and the public plaza. Commonwealth agencies such as the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency (COR3), and the departments of Housing and Natural & Environmental Resources administer federal funds to make the projects a reality.
“The funds are there; we in the Municipality have done our part, but we have to row in the same direction,” the mayor said.
In November of last year, Rodríguez Ramos announced that his municipality was recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the first town in Puerto Rico to complete all recovery procedures in accordance with the laws and regulations of the federal agency, and COR3, for the Hurricane Fiona emergency.
“We Guaniqueños are the first to go the extra mile in reconstruction, but we depend on state agencies,” the mayor said.
In 2024, the municipality is working on the demolition and design process for Ensenada Park, La Montalva Community Center and the Nueva Ensenada Municipal Gymnasium. Also going out to bid are repairs at Mariano Tito Rodríguez Coliseum. Other projects for reconstruction are the courts in Fuig, as well as in Alturas de Belgica, in the Esperanza neighborhood, Moises Flores Court and La Luna Community Center.
“We have also worked exhaustively on the paving of roads, which has totaled 27,185 tons of asphalt, with an investment that exceeds $3 million,” Rodríguez Ramos said. “Even so, there is still much to do, and we will continue to insist on enlisting the help of those who have the decision-making power to accelerate the processes.”