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PuertoRicoWOW News Service
Puerto Rico Coliseum: A Bad Lemon
By Proviana Colon Diaz
April 11, 2001
Public Buildings Authority Director Lillian Rivera Correa said Tuesday that she believed the government will not be able to regain the millions spent on the construction of the Puerto Rico Coliseum, which she described as the "white elephant."
"In regards to what has been done so far, we see an unfinished structure, and I have no knowledge as to how we can regain the money already spent on a bad plan," Rivera Correa said.
The architect said she saw no way for the construction of the coliseum to continue at this moment, unless a private company would take interest in it and complete it.
Rivera Correa's statements come one day after Infrastructure Financing Administration Executive Director Ramon Amador said the coliseum could be imploded as a way to solve the crisis.
That proposition, however, was described Tuesday by Gov. Sila Calderon as "too extreme," because among other things, $120 million had already been spent on it.
However, she did not completely rule out the alternative.
"Everything in life is a possibility, but I see it as an extreme possibility, too extreme," the governor said. "The Government Development Bank president and a work team have done an analysis of different alternatives. Once I see them, I will report the alternatives and which ones I chose."
Rivera Correa made her statements Tuesday during public hearings on an ongoing investigation by House Socioeconomic Development Committee Chairwoman Alida Arizmendi.
Meanwhile, the Regulations and Permits Administration (ARPE by its Spanish acronym) could be revoking all permits granted for the coliseum construction if an investigation proves that the four changes of order were never filed before their offices.
Regulations Service Manager Ruben Vega said the administration never received notice of the four changes of order, which could increase the expenses of the construction up to an additional $20 million, for which he would be ordering an investigation into the matter.
Asked by Arizmendi why the administration approved permits for the construction of the coliseum when no parking plans were submitted, Vega said the plans called for the construction of 130 parking spots to be built around the coliseum.
Vega also explained that 14 "parcelas," or government land that had been granted to underprivileged people, near the coliseum were to be used for the construction of two parking lots. One would provide 3,500 parking spots and the other 2,000, but the plans were never submitted.
Planning Board Advisor Diana Perez also testified Tuesday. She was supposed to explain the criteria used to approve the construction of the coliseum in the Muñoz Rivera location.
Perez, however, repeatedly failed to answer questions by Arizmendi, alleging she had no knowledge of specific aspects dealing with the mega project.
This caused an outrage from Arizmendi, and she dismissed Perez from the hearing and asked her committee secretary to request Planning Board President Frederick Mulach to attend a future hearing.
"This is a disrespect to this committee and this Legislature. Let it stay for the record that from now on, I will not accept any substitute for any agency secretary who I ask to testify before this committee," Arizmendi said.
The Legislature has traditionally allowed Cabinet members and agency heads to send substitutes for the hearings.
Following the morning-long hearing, Arizmendi declined to say what is her position regarding the coliseum construction.
"This is a very serious matter, and I would like to complete the investigation before I make my recommendations," Arizmendi said.
Meanwhile, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini criticized Tuesday the proposal and said it is "just as barbaric" as Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin's proposal to transfer the U.S. Navy's military practices from Vieques to Culebra.