GHURA executive director: ‘I did not mislead the community’

Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority executive director Ray Topasna (PNC file photo)

Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority Authority executive director Ray Topasna has responded to a federal Housing and Urban Development letter accusing him of “providing only part of the facts” and “leaving out some of the facts that may have misinformed the community of Guam” during an interview with Guam media.

The HUD letter, written by Mark A. Chandler, director of HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, specifically mentioned Topasna’s statements regarding GHURA’s challenges in building a new Sinajana fire station.

“When asked about the status of the new Sinajana Fire Station, you attributed GHURA’s decision to fund only the architectural and engineering design of the new Sinajana Fire Station and withhold funding for construction to a future Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation to a ‘challenge’ that GHURA faces with HUD,” Chandler wrote.

During GHURA’s board meeting last week, Topasna informed the board that he will not be responding to the letter “because the letter did not require a response.”

With regard to the new Sinajana fire station, Topasna pointed out that HUD is not privy to local budgetary constraints.

“I am the cabinet member of the governor. HUD is not in the room when we sit down and speak with the Guam Fire Department. Bottom line is that I, along with the government of Guam, would have to certify that there would be a requisite number of personnel and equipment to support the construction of a new fire station,” Topasna said.

In meeting with the Guam Fire Department, Topasna said they have not been able to get a commitment from GFD that they would be able to meet the staffing requirements of the new facility at this time, particularly because of COVID 19.

“So it would be a hard sell for me to proceed with the construction of a fire station simply because the finances cannot justify that. However, the construction of a fire station is, in fact, a top priority for the governor and a top priority for this administration. So we included that as part of the priority projects under our action plan and consolidated plan,” Topasna said.

He stressed to the board that he did not misinform the community and that he answered questions to the best of his ability.

“There was no intention to mislead or misinform the community,” Topasna said.