More than a year ago, on January 18, 2022, then-Congressman Michael San Nicolas issued the following statement:
On Janurary 6, 2022 the U.S. Treasury issued their 437 page final rule on the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds allocated to local governments. In particular, projects in excess of $10 million will require significant justification to include details on the use of funds and options for other funding mechanisms.
“Our office has completed its review of the updated ARP Treasury guidance, and as we seek to tackle the need for a new hospital on Guam we have routinely advocated for thorough planning and funding transparency for the project, as any use of ARP funds for a new hospital directly reduces the availability of those funds to provide further pandemic related economic relief to our people and businesses,” said Congressman San Nicolas. “Today we still have essential workers uncompensated, a tourism economy unready, no local solution for our unemployed with the expiration of PUA, and an overall economic outlook that remains uncertain, all of which remain unresolved with available ARP funding,” Congressman San Nicolas continued.
“Nearly six months ago we advocated for engaging the Army Corps of Engineers with federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior to do a charette to properly plan and cost out our hospital solution and that has not happened; now, with this guidance from Treasury, we can expect due diligence of that caliber to be done if ARP funds are to be used,” Congressman San Nicolas added. “It is vital that we get this project right, and weigh out the realistic timelines and processes it will take to execute a project of that scope appropriately, with the immediate ongoing need to address pandemic related struggles in our community now, and Treasury’s guidance makes it very plain that our local government needs to do just that in its deployment of ARP federal funds,” Congressman San Nicolas concludes.
The planning process of the proposed new $1 billion medical campus remains under a shroud of secrecy. There continue to be no publicly-disclosed timelines for development. The governor has spent the last two years driving an agenda to build the hospital on Naval property on Eagle’s Field. That agenda has been axed by a legal memorandum from the attorney general of Guam explaining that the proposed lease for the property will be illegal to sign because the legislature has not authorized funding for the lease payments, among other issues.
The government of Guam could have begun a public planning process with a deliberate and transparent program for the development of a hospital at Hospital Point, Tamuning two years ago. Instead, the governor of Guam decided to not listen to San Nicolas, doctors, and some senators. Instead, she wasted the last two years digging in her heels on the use of land the government doesn’t own.