After years of meetings the group of businessmen known as the Hagatna Foundation is on its way to bringing back life to a capitol that appeared to be in decline — in appearance and importance.
Kudos to foundation members Chris Bejado Joey Lopez and David Hanley and the others for staying on task and working to revitalize what once was a bustling albeit tiny metropolis. They’ve been working to bring people back to Hagatna and making them stay beyond five o’clock. They had a little help in recent years thanks to the facelift on the old Town House now Agana Shopping Center — private sector bravado in the middle of an economic slump. Half of the project is done and a movie multiplex will soon be added to the mix of retail outlets. Now let’s see what the private sector can do with public money: $1.9 million isn’t too shabby. Sprucing up what already exists and what is already an attraction just makes sense. It isn’t hard to see that the investment will pay for itself.
We are pleased that the government of Guam is finally taking up an interest in saving this historic village which plays host to numerous public facilities and agencies. The liveliness of Hagatna has remained dormant waiting for someone or in this instance four groups to wake it from its slumber.
The Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority is right in its suggestion to build up Hagatna as a cultural destination. For years our visitors have been telling us in thousands of exit surveys they want more. Here is our opportunity to give it to them. It may not be a cultural center like the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii but who knows what the potential may be. It all lies in the planning. Imagine having cultural performances music art displays and many people enjoying Hagatna beyond one night at the Chamorro Village. Since we can’t seem to push ourselves to move forward with the I Tanota Land Use Master Plan I guess we could start on a smaller scale. Baby steps. There are three government entities involved in different aspects of resuscitating Hagatna and one non-government organization.
It looks like the legislature should take a cue from the others and work on getting out of a building it doesn’t own and restore the old legislative hall to its former glory. Stop spending millions in taxpayer dollars on rent annually and get in on the action to breathe life back into Hagatna.