To date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $67 million to repair and rebuild parks and other recreational facilities on the island that were damaged by Hurricane María, the agency said.
Representing 161 projects, these funds will help restore the sense of community that is an integral part to the recovery of so many on the island.
“Recovery is more than obligating federal funds, it’s about helping communities regain a sense of normalcy after disasters,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alex Amparo.
“These funds will not only help stimulate the local economy, they will help rebuild and repair many community parks and recreational facilities which in many ways are the essence of these neighborhoods,” he said.
Among the obligations are more than $3.6 million for the Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation.
Funding for seven projects include more than $1.8 million for the Osvaldo Rivera Athletic Park in Coamo, more than $411,000 for the Hato Arriba basketball court in San Sebastián, and nearly $111,000 for the Mayagüez Terrace Sports Complex, among others.
“In the recovery process, the parks and recreational facilities projects are important and have a significant impact because many times it is in these places where community dynamics are developed and where children and young people develop in different areas of interest,” said Ottmar Chávez, director of COR3.
FEMA works with COR3 through the agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico for expenses related to Hurricanes Irma and María.
“With these obligations, the sub-recipients will be able to begin these projects that drive local activity and move the recovery of the Island forward,” he said.
For her part, Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation Secretary Adriana Sánchez-Parés, said projects related to sports and recreational facilities are key to the agency’s recovery and reconstruction plan.
“As a Department our goal is to not only rebuild spaces to code and that are resilient, but to seek community empowerment in renewed spaces,” she said.
“These obligations for reconstruction will allow for just that: through the reconstruction process it will rekindle the local economy by creating jobs, but more importantly, it will lead to the restoration of spaces that will serve communities by providing a space for sports, wellness and recreation for all ages,” said Sánchez-Parés.
“Once these projects are finalized, the Department will work hand in hand with municipalities and communities for the development of sports and recreational programs and hope this augmented vision of health and wellness serves as an incentive for the continuance and maintenance of these spaces and programs,” she added.