Thursday, June 22, 2006

Save the Grotto!

For those of you who don't know about the Saipan Grotto, check out the RC&D post about the Bird Island Sanctuary. The Grotto is a part of the sanctuary (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the Grotto pictures).

Let me start off by saying that this post is not a joke.

Somebody wants to build a monorail down to the Grotto.

Let me say that again just to clarify:

Somebody wants to take the #2 cavern diving spot in the world and build a loud, oily, mechanical monorail from the top down to the bottom.

Here is the original newspaper article announcing this project to the world:

Click HERE to read the article

Since that article appeared, there have been several letters to the editor for and against the project. This is what has been written and published thus far:


Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Monday, June 12, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Needless to say, I'm against the idea. My Dad took me swimming there when I was a kid. When I have kids, hopefully in the DISTANT future, I want to take them swimming there, too. AND I WANT IT TO BE EXACTLY THE WAY IT WAS WHEN I WAS A KID.

The arguments put forth for building the monorail are to improve the economy and to help disabled people get down to the Grotto.

Well, the economic argument is garbage. Right now diver's aren't charged to dive the Grotto, the #2 cavern dive spot in the world.'s an idea: Charge a fee! Then in addition to the divers paying for their hotel, airplane, SCUBA gear and training (economic activity), they'll be paying to use the area (more economic activity). I've had to pay to get into almost every state or national park, museum, or culturally important place I've ever visited. It's time to start charging people to visit the Grotto.

As for the disabled argument, go ahead and read these articles (or just read the headlines) and then decide if you think people with disabilities should be encouraged to go swimming in the Grotto:

Two Divers Rescued Off Grotto
Grotto Nearly Claims Another Life
Drowning Victims Were Japanese
Tourist Missing in Grotto Waters
Korean Diver Drowns in Grotto
Near-Drowning Victim Still in ICU

Had enough?

Grotto Claims Two More Lives
6 Swimmers Stranded at the Grotto
USS McCain Sailor Rescues Saipan Tourists

All of these stories are from only 2001-present. God only knows what happened in the 90's when the tourist industry was at its height.

Can you see where I'm going with this? The Grotto is a very dangerous place. PEOPLE DIE THERE ALMOST EVERY YEAR. Why would we want to make it more accessible, especially for people that might have otherwise been turned off by the long staircase?

So will you help me keep this project from happening?

Please write a letter to the editor stating your opposition to this project. The two main newspapers on Saipan are the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety

The Tribune has an online submission form.

Click HERE to send a letter to the editor to the Saipan Tribune.

Mail your letter to the editor to the Variety to

Leave me a comment if you write a letter and I'll keep an eye out for it. The editors of both papers publish almost every letter they recieve.

I know that at least 70 people read this blog every day. Please help. This is really important. I especially ask those of you with Chamorro or Carolinian names to write a letter.




Emily said...

pssst....Saipan English teachers...

I'd just like to add that I cannot wait to incorporate these types of local issues into my curriculum, i.e. for teaching the persuasive essay.

hint hint hint!

Emily said...

Oh and by the way, Angelo, satisfy those paternal urges by taking your NIECES and NEPHEWS to the lovely monorail-free Grotto in ten years.

Or we can just throw Mochi in.

Angry Sicilian said...

My Letter as submitted:

I live in Chicago, Illinois. We're a big city with lots of people that need to get places. We are always in a rush (Hey, it gets cold outside, Okay?). I've gotten use to the walls of my apartment shaking a little when the "L" passes (our famous above ground train), but I don't think The Grotto is the sort of place that people want to rush through and I doubt it will grow accustom to the monorail like I have the "L." When I travel to Siapan, I will go to get away from the city, the shaking, and the rush. Please don't destroy The Grotto before I have a chance to visit.

Missy said...

Did you read the letter in yesterday's Tribune? I enjoyed it. I read somewhere that it would be utilized by divers as well that "aren't able to make the climb". Seriously if you aren't physically fit enough to do that, should you be diving?

Such a ridiculous idea any way you look at it. Charge an admission fee. The National Parks in the US do it.

Thanks for the tips on uploading photos. Learn something new every day!

gretel said...

can we have a sit-in or something when I get there? Josh can keep them away with your speargun... he is so excited I am scared