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EDITORIAL: Develop new hospital at Oka Point

Carmen and Frank Perez

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced earlier this week she wants to lease Oka Point for cultural preservation purposes. We think she should build the new hospital there.

What is really behind this decision by the governor? We have to ask ourselves who really is going to benefit since it makes absolutely no sense at all. There are numerous reasons for skepticism about this decision especially when you just consider alone the history and current state of affairs of the Chamorro Village.

Tax payers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the Chamorro Village for Fest Pac. Yet since the end of Fest Pac these improvements have been virtually unused. Chamorro Village tenants themselves continue to face problems that have existed for at least the past 15 years. Then, you have millions of tax payer dollars already spent on the Guam Museum, which contributes to cultural preservation, and is adjacent to the Chamorro Village. Let’s not forget the government owns thousands of acres of crown lands around the island that no family has a claim to. If the governor was really sincere about cultural preservation, identify crown lands and give it rent-free, provided it is used for so-called cultural preservation.

The legislature needs to step in and stop this idea from ever becoming real. While she talks about our history, the governor has totally neglected a monumental development which occurred in 1951.

In the late 1940’s and in 1950, then-Senator Francisco Perez, the brainchild of economic development on Guam, started subdividing property in Tamuning that would become known as PerezVille. Back then, the property included Oka Point, and Senator Perez wanted to develop Oka Point and surrounding land into a subdivision of homes. Former Governor Carlton Skinner approached Senator Perez to buy the land for the development of a hospital. Healthcare was extremely poor for our people in those days, and it turns out, Mr. Perez valued the health needs of his fellow islanders above profit for himself.

Perez’s compassion took over his business goals when he found out the land would be used as a hospital. Between 1950 and 1951, Mr. Skinner had his Department of Land Management assistant director, Manuel Guerrero, and Department of Public Works director negotiate the sale of the land with Mr. Perez. The landowner's condition - that it be used for a public hospital.

So in September of 1951 Skinner and Perez entered a purchase agreement and the dream of these visionaries and our people for a new hospital came as planned. On October 31, 1951, a Bill of Sale was granted to the government of Guam for Lot 5173-`1, now known as Oka Point, for the consideration of $51,914.91, or pennies on the dollar of its true value at the time. Mr. Perez did not sell Oka Point to the government for any other reason but a hospital.

There are even more reasons that should raise eye brows over the use of one of the island’s most valuable properties for cultural preservation.

In a desire to preserve history, let’s not forget the birth place of hospital care on Guam. At this point in our history, let’s look to Senator Perez and Governor Skinner for advice. Especially with GMH being in shambles and costing tax payers millions annually, it’s time to consider developing a new hospital at Oka Point.

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