War in the Pacific
Administrative History
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Chapter 9:

Building and Maintaining the Park

Roque Borja, Chief of Maintenance, supervised all development and maintenance activities in the park. Borja and his staff performed multiple, diverse tasks, including daily trash collection, weekly lawn mowing, raising and lowering the flags at Gaan Point each day, and assisting with vital historic resource preservation/ stabilization projects. During the Reyes superintendency, many maintenance projects were completed, such as: constructing and maintaining and constructing new picnic shelters and tables and comfort stations at the Asan and Agat beach units, replacing fireplaces, reshaping beaches and berms, maintaining graded roads, expanding parking areas, replacing automobile barriers in parking areas, and replacing interpretive signs. [408] Occasionally, the Maintenance Division bore the full brunt of dealing with totally unplanned and unpredicted natural disasters, such as typhoons, floods, and fires. Limited funding that minimized the number of permanent maintenance staff during the Reyes superintendency greatly hampered sustained progress on long-term projects. This included the planning and construction of the new maintenance building in the Asan Inland unit, a project that extended over several years and that was not completed until just before Reyes and Borja retired from the National Park Service.

Chief of Maintenance Borja and his staff had primary responsibility for constructing and overseeing contract work on comfort stations built in the most-visited park units, Asan Beach and Agat Beach. In March 1984, Superintendent Reyes hosted groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of a comfort station at Gaan Point (in the Agat Beach unit). CWC Builders were contracted to build the 25' X 25' structure. Both water and sewer lines were hooked up to the public utility lines. [409] In late 1985, a survey was conducted for the construction of a comfort station at Asan Point. Five years passed before the project was undertaken. In September 1990, archaeological clearance was given to build a 25-square-foot comfort station of concrete cinder block on a reinforced concrete slab, located about 140 feet southwest of the park's aged maintenance building. The sewer and power lines from the restroom were connected to existing service utilities. [410]

Although massive quantities of non-historic buildings and other debris had been cleared from the Asan Beach unit during the Newman superintendency, large amounts of debris still remained and were cleared away in the mid-1980s. Asan Point (the site of the former Camp Asan Hospital complex), in particular, had several unsafe buildings, jagged concrete chunks, exposed re-bars, and dumped debris. The Park Service worried about personal injury and tort claims that might result, and was also eager to return Asan Beach to a semblance of the historic World War II scene. NPS budget cuts in the mid-1980s prevented the park from receiving the estimated $100,000 needed to remove this debris at the east end of Asan Point near the Asan River. In early 1986, Superintendent Reyes appealed to the military on Guam for help in removing the ten to fifteen truck loads of concrete, coral fill, rebar, and vegetation, much as Superintendent Newman had done six years earlier. At the same time, Superintendent Reyes asked for and received help from the Public Utility Agency of Guam in removing three fire hydrants in the former Camp Asan Hospital complex. [411]

The park Maintenance Division spent an enormous amount of time and money dealing with environmental factors unique to Guam. The preservation and stabilization of historic features, such as defensive Japanese pillboxes, bunkers, and gun emplacements, required bi-monthly clearing of dense vegetation that grew at a ferocious rate. Even the straightforward task of mowing the expansive lawn at the Asan Beach unit was a year-round activity in Guam's tropical climate. Chronically short-staffed, the maintenance program, served by only one permanent staff and two to four seasonal workers, was sometimes barely able to complete the minimum maintenance necessary to keep park units open. Diminished funding in 1986, for example, required the small maintenance crew to abandon all efforts to control vegetative growth in the Asan Inland unit and resulted in it being closed to the public. [412]

The damage, sometimes great, caused by the arrival of typhoons and severe storms every fall and winter took enormous sums of money and human resources to repair. About every five years or less, a monster typhoon, known as a "super typhoon," hit Guam, causing great damage to park natural and cultural resources, especially those on the exposed western side of the island, where most typhoons swept ashore. On November 12, 1984, Typhoon Bill hit Guam, causing great damage to Gaan Point and Apaca Point in the Agat Beach unit. Several mature camachili, manzanita, soursap, and pago trees were uprooted or lost limbs and needed to be cut up and cleared away before the unit could be made safe and opened to visitors. [413] (In December 1986, Typhoon Kim hit the American Memorial Park with 160 mile-per-hour winds, causing $88,000 in damages, which the Maintenance Division helped repair.) [414] In January 1988, Typhoon Roy, with gusts up to 168 miles per hour, swept in along the shoreline of Asan Beach unit, leaving tons and tons of debris in its wake. It took $79,600 (provided by the Western Regional Office) to repair the damage done to park resources. It took three weeks for the park to resume normal operations. [415] On January 14, 1990, Typhoon Koryn ravaged the Asan Beach coastal unit, toppling palm trees, eroding sections of the beach, depositing sand on lawns and parking lots, and causing some damage to both the Stell Newman Visitor Center/Headquarters and the old maintenance building near the beach in the Asan unit. [416] The Maintenance Division completed or orchestrated most of the cleanup and recovery work after typhoons had wrecked havoc with park units.

A major new park development during the Reyes superintendency was the construction of a new maintenance building. Not long after Ralph Reyes arrived at the park, periodic discussions began about the inadequacy of the existing building built in the late 1940s near the Asan River on the east side of Asan Point. In 1978, the Young Adult Conservation Corps remodeled the building for the group's use. In March 1984, Superintendent Reyes and Maintenance Chief Borja expressed concern about the security and safety of the maintenance area and about repairs needed in the building's wiring and lighting. Also, the park's 1988 "Statement for Management" reported that: "the old, unsafe maintenance building on this beach is a major intrusion." [417] The construction of a new maintenance facility, estimated to cost $310,000, was low on the list of park projects, thus funding for a new building did not look promising in the near future. Over the next few years, efforts were made to secure the building with a chain link fence and alarm system, make it safe, and prolong its use with regular painting. [418]

In 1987, the financial reality of constructing a new maintenance building finally seemed imminent. Late that year, American Institute of Architects member Stephen Farneth visited the park to inspect the site of the proposed new maintenance facility, in the Asan Inland unit, several hundred feet east of and not visible from Marine Drive. In 1988, appropriated funding permitted construction of the "horizontal phase" of the building. NPS contracted with the firm of Clough HK, Ltd. to do the work. Funding for the "vertical phase" became available the following year. "The old dilapidated Maintenance structure at Asan Point has seen its days," Superintendent Reyes reported in Mary 1990, "and will soon be replaced with a new maintenance facility at Asan Inland unit. . . .Upon completion (June 1990) the old structure will be demolished and disposed, giving more room for our park visitors," Reyes noted. [419] Unexpected delays slowed progress on the new maintenance facility; it was finally completed in February 1991. The farewell retirement party for Superintendent Rafael Reyes was held in the new maintenance building five months later. [420]

Interpreting the Park to Visitors

When Superintendent Rafael Reyes arrived in the spring of 1983, four years after the park's establishment, the activities in the Interpretive Division were limited, but beginning to expand. Although personal services interpretation were extremely limited due to the limited staff of one (James Miculka) the new museum exhibit installed in the Visitor Center opened in August 1982. It included a sound/slide program produced by Harpers Ferry Center, providing basic interpretation to park visitors. In the spring of 1983, the slide program was replaced with a revised version produced by Harpers Ferry Center. Harpers Ferry Center was also in the process of developing a park brochure. Over the next eight years, staff made great advances in expanding interpretive venues for park visitors.

During the 1980s, the interpretive staff was assisted in their efforts by a cooperating association. The Marianas National Park Association, a non-profit organization, formed in 1983 to enhance visitor awareness of the significance of the War in the Pacific park. The association helped support interpretive literature and programs, exhibits, and special projects. The first board members included: Anthony Ramirez, Gordon Tydingco, Dirk Ballendorf, John Weisenburger, Carlos Nieves, and Annette Donner. By 1988, the organization had become inactive; it dissolved in May that year. In 1989, the Arizona Memorial Museum Association (AMMA), based in Honolulu, extended its activities to the Guam park, thus becoming the park's new cooperating association that helped support interpretive activities. AMMA Executive Director Gary Beito visited the Guam park that year and quickly set up association operations on Guam. [421]

The park's "Interim Interpretive Plan" guided the park's interpretive activities in the 1980s. In February 1983, the recently completed the draft "Interim Interpretive Plan," identified the park's interpretive themes, presented interpretive tools and methods, and made specific recommendations for interpretation at each park unit. NPS Interpretive Planning Team members (Art Allen from Harpers Ferry, Gary Barbano from the Pacific Area Office, Dick Cunningham and Dave Forgang, from the Western Regional Office, and Jim Miculka from War in the Pacific park) identified seventeen major interpretive themes. These were:

1) causes of the war
2) chronology of the Pacific War
3) lives of ordinary participants
4) effects of the war on groups
5) war in the homeland
6) Japanese and American psyche
7) aftermath and results of war
8) effects of new wartime technology
9) military strategy and tactics [422]
10) military statistics
11) geographic scope of war
12) ecological impacts of war
13) communications
14) personalities of participants
15) logistics and supply
16) natural resources and economy
17) Battle of Guam

The "Interim Interpretive Plan" then presented ideas for developing a museum and wayside exhibits and signs, audiovisuals, oral histories, publications, environmental education, and personal services (guided tours, park talks, off-site education programs, etc.). The thirty-five-page interpretive plan concluded by making several summary recommendations:

  • Help form a cooperating association;
  • Develop a wayside exhibit plan;
  • Submit required funding requests for exhibit cyclic maintenance;
  • Acquire a "random access" slide projector;
  • Develop a slide program for off-site programs
  • Fill roving interpretive need;
  • Gain a better understanding of Japanese visitors' needs and interests;
  • Pursue an active oral history interview program;
  • Develop a table-top relief map of Guam;
  • Acquire a film library of World War II newsreels;
  • Develop a rotating exhibit of military artifacts; and
  • Develop a "Collections Management Plan." [423]

About two years later, Museum Technician Jimmy Garrido, with guidance from others, prepared a "Scope of Collection Statement." This came about a year after Western Regional Curator Dave Forgang had visited the park and described the poor environmental conditions of the exhibits (temperature, humidity, and light), both inside the Visitor Center and outside in various park units, and the critical need for secure storage, which might be met when the second floor of the Haloda Building was converted to administrative offices and, hopefully, museum storage. "Dotted throughout the park are many World War II artifacts," noted Forgang, "all of which are in various states of poor condition; they are literally rusting away." Forgang went on to describe problems of fluctuating temperature and humidity in those areas of the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center where the collections were stored (second floor) and other areas (first floor) where they were exhibited. [424] The "Scope of Collection Statement," completed in January 1985, stated that that the park should acquire museum objects that related to the Pacific Theatre during World War II and it set forward procedures for collecting, categorizing, accessioning, and using the collection. The plan also presented a few restrictions pertaining park collections, one of which noted that War in the Pacific National Historical Park "will accept only those items for which it can provide storage, preservation and protection under conditions that will assure their availability for museum purposes." [425]

Changes occurred to the exhibits in the mid-1980s. The museum exhibit area on the first floor was expanded when the Haloda Building interior was remodeled, creating second-floor space for park administrative offices and museum collection storage as well as audiovisual storage. In 1985, the Newman Visitor Center museum exhibits included U.S. and Japanese war relics, memorabilia, and a portrayal of the effect war had on Guam, the United States, and twelve other nations involved in the Pacific Theatre. A twelve-minute slide presentation was shown upon request. The Visitor Center remained open to the public seven days a week, eight hours on weekdays and partial days on Saturdays and Sundays. [426]

Despite the reportedly poor condition of museum objects exhibited outdoors in various units of the park, strong sentiment existed among some park supporters to expand the park's outdoor exhibit displays. Since Stell Newman's superintendency the urge and the opportunity had been to find and display all kinds of World War II military objects, including airplanes, naval vessels, and landing craft. This urge persisted through the mid- and late 1980s, when a movement gained momentum for the park's acquisition of large artifacts, including a Japanese midget submarine. The Governor of Guam was among those who strongly favored the park's acquisition and display of World War II-related objects. "I feel the Park should be pursuing an aggressive program of large artifact acquisition such as aircraft, tanks, and artillery," wrote Guam Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo to Superintendent Reyes in July 1984. "Unfortunately," Bordallo continued, "that has not materialized." [427] Bordallo encouraged the park to obtain a World War II ship–an aircraft carrier, battleship, cruiser, destroyer, or submarine–that it could display in one of its beach units. Other opportunities to acquire World War II equipment surfaced. Doug Hubbard, former NPS employee and then superintendent of the Admiral Nimitz State Historical Park in Fredericksburg, Texas, wrote Superintendent Reyes and Chief Ranger Jim Miculka, on January 7 1985, informing them that several Japanese type 95 light tanks existed in a so-called "Tank Park" on Ponape (one of the Gilbert Islands of Micronesia) that might be purchased for $50 each. "I suspect that one of these tanks from Ponape could be removed and taken to Guam without destroying the integrity of the park," Hubbard speculated. [428] Limited funding purportedly kept the NPS from acquiring such large objects. Plus, Park Service historic preservationists remained concerned about the expense of maintaining large objects.

Just six months later, the U.S. Navy on Guam offered the park a Japanese mini-submarine, the Ko Hyoteki, a Type C two-person midget submarine built by Ourazaki, Kure, that had run aground near Togcha Beach in August 1944. It had been displayed at the Apra Harbor Naval Station for several years. In 1988, Pacific Daily News editor Joe Murphy declared that: "The War in the Pacific National Historical Park needs more artifacts and exhibits if it is ever to develop into a real attraction. . . . There are still tanks around, and some big guns sitting on Marine Drive. . . . How about a three-man submarine?" Murphy chastised park staff in 1988 for not coming up with the funding to buy and maintain such large artifacts to display in the park. Guam Governor Bordallo and others also encouraged Superintendent Reyes to exhibit the submarine at the Asan Beach unit in. [429]

Superintendent Reyes and others in the National Park Service initially supported the proposal to relocate the submarine and discussed the details of the move during the summer of 1989. [430] Later that year, the NPS contracted with Tri-Coastal Marine, Inc. to survey and assess the cost of transporting and preserving the Ko Hyoteki. By late 1989, a cooperative agreement had been completed outlining the shared responsibility that the U.S. Navy and National Park Service would take to transport, preserve, and maintain the midget submarine. The Navy agreed to perform preservation measures, fabricate mounting piers at Asan, and transport the submarine to Asan Point. The National Park Service agreed to make the submarine available for public viewing and interpret it, and to maintain and preserve it against ordinary corrosion. The annual cost of maintenance was around $4,300; approximately $24,000 was required every ten years to sandblast and repaint the sub. Park Service Director William Penn Mott reviewed and supported the cooperative agreement with the U.S. Navy. [431]

In 1988, Chief of Interpretation Jim Miculka, along with Rose Manibusan and many non-NPS individuals, helped celebrate the tenth anniversary of War in the Pacific National Historical Park's congressional founding. The park's interpretive staff played a central role in organizing celebrations. Park staff organized a series of activities in August, proclaimed National Park Service month by Guam Governor Joseph Ada. "Evening in the Parks" seminars were held in the Stell Newman Visitor Center, [432] "boonie stomp" hikes were led by David Lotz and Lonnie Knudson of the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation, awards for a NPS poster contest were recognized and handed out, a free dive tour was conducted by park staff and volunteers, and a new twenty-minute video program was shown at the Visitor Center. The celebrations ceremonies climaxed on August 18, when the National Park Service invited the public to a gathering at Asan Point, featuring speeches by military and civilian dignitaries. Following opening invocation by Reverend Yushin Enomoto, Superintendent Rafael Reyes made a short speech, followed by Guam Delegate Ben Blaz, Acting Governor Frank Blas, and Guam's Consul General of Japan Katsuo Tosa. National Park Service Director William Penn Mott, Jr., made the keynote commemorative speech. Mott told the audience that he had been touched by the beauty of Guam and what War in the Pacific National Historic Park had to offer. He emphasized that WPA had a special role to play–to preserve not only the story of the war, but also the history of the culture on Guam. The ceremonies at Asan Point ended with the presentation and flying of eleven flags representing countries from around the world that had participated in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The United States Navy Band played the national anthem of each country involved; the Boy Scouts of Guam presented the flags. [433]

The celebration of the park's ten-year anniversary and the special interest that National Park Service Director William Penn Mott took in developing the park, fueled plans to build a new interpretive center for completion by the fiftieth anniversary of the American landing on Guam in 1994. In early 1988, the Denver Service Center had completed a draft "Design Concept Plan" of this new visitor center, to be built on Nimitz Hill (Hill 40), which offered a panoramic view of the American landing beaches below. During the park's tenth anniversary celebrations in August 1988, NPS Director Mott visited the proposed visitor center site on Spruance Drive atop Nimitz Hill. A year later, after being replaced as National Park Service director by James M. Ridenour, under the new George Bush administration, and becoming a special assistant to the director of the Western Regional Office, William Penn Mott returned to Guam in July 1989. By this time the Denver Service Center had completed a more thorough design concept of the proposed visitor center. The building was to be two stories, approximately 8,000 square feet in size (5,000 square feet of which would be devoted to interpretation and visitor services), and simulate a "pill box" defensive military feature. [434]

Former Director Mott met with many local and regional officials on Guam during his summer 1989 visit, described details of the visitor center design concept, and initiated discussions about funding the Nimitz Hill Visitor Center. Mott suggested that funds for this structure come from three sources: 1) local, 2) Marines and armed services, and 3) congressional appropriation. He anticipated that by raising around $500,000 from local and U.S. military sources, Congress would be more willing to appropriate the anticipated $2,000,000 needed to pay for the remainder of the project. During the summer and fall of 1989, Mott appealed to several Guamanian local officials and politicians, U.S. military officers, and prominent American business people to serve on a committee to raise money for the interpretive center or to donate money to the project. He successfully persuaded Police Chief Adolph Sgambelluri of Guam to serve as chair of a local fund raising committee. In September 1989, T.R. Sullivan, executive vice president of Jones & Guerrero Company, Inc., wrote to Mott on behalf of his construction company pledging $25,000 to kick off the fund-raising campaign for the visitor center. [435] By early 1990, Mott had received initial promises from a long list of politicians, government leaders, and business people to serve as "directors" on the so-called "Friends of Pacific War Interpretive Center" (FPWIC). [436] By then a rough draft of a plan of operation for the Friends group had been hammered out.

It specified that the "basic fund-raising approach will concentrate on direct solicitation of major gifts from corporations, foundations, and individuals located or doing business in Guam." [437] The Arizona Memorial Museum Association, a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, would serve as advisor and banker for FPWIC. The tentative schedule of visitor center activities projected that the memorandum of agreement for approval of the construction project would be completed by March 30, 1990 and that the person-to-person fund-raising campaign would be launched by June 1, 1990. As the weeks went by in 1990, some concerns arose about the economic feasibility of building the new visitor center, and an apparent shift in the fund-raising strategy occurred. In late July 30, 1990, Guam's congressional delegate to Congress, Ben Blaz, wrote to the new National Park Service Director James Ridenour that:

Letters from my congressional district have stated concerns about this proposal [to building an interpretive facility on Nimitz Hill]. They have mentioned the added expense to the already strained budget for War in the Pacific if the NPS chooses to staff not only the Nimitz Hill facility but also the park's area of major use and the World War II equipment display at Asan Beach.

Also," Blaz added, "constituents have written me that three pieces of the World War II equipment outside at Asan Beach are rusting away. [438] Only a week later, a letter drafted from Bryan Harry, director of the NPS Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, indicated that the new visitor center "will be financed from federal appropriations," even though, Harry acknowledged, seed donation from the public–particularly veterans–would be an important asset in securing funds. [439]

This critical shift from a heavy reliance on private donations to a heavy reliance on congressional appropriations for funding, in the constantly changing quixotic political environment on Guam and in Washington, D.C., greatly diminished the chances of realizing the construction of the new visitor center on Nimitz Hill. As the War in the Pacific National Historical Park entered the 1990s and the decade of World War II celebrations, it did so without a new visitor center. Although land on the proposed site for the structure on Nimitz Hill was transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service in March 1992, no funding was ever made available for contracting the architectural or engineering drawings of the building. The park staff, which experienced a great turnover of personnel in 1990 and 1991, devised many other ways to celebrate and commemorate key historic events in the Pacific Theater of World War II that made use of the Stell Newman Visitor Center in the leased Haloda Building on Asan Beach. [440]

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Last Updated: 08-May-2005