By Jacob Nakamura
A group of young citizens, who love to play volleyball after work, approached the Dededo Mayor's Office to use what appeared to be an abandoned volleyball court at one of the public parks at Liguan Terrace. The mayor's office employees all but shut the door on the resident.
'Use it at your own risk, but we don't have the money to turn on the lights at night, and we're not going to clean it or provide the posts for the net, or even the net,' was how one of the young men summarized the response from one of the mayor's employees.
The court is surrounded by a chain link fence, though it was not locked. Jutting out of the ground in the center of the court are two poles meant to hold the posts for the volleyball net. Court markings are all but gone. The government paid to install lights on the court, but no longer pays to keep the lights on.
A dark concrete court in the middle of a public park is the perfect place for riffraff and trouble, especially at night. That explains the broken glass covering the asphalt of the court, the used needles, and other drug paraphernalia the young citizens found.
Undeterred by the callous response from the Dededo Mayor's Office, the volleyball players decided to clean up the court, buy the posts and the net, purchase mobile lights and paint at Home Depot, and mark the court themselves. Without any government funding. Without any help from any government agency. And without complaint.
According to governor's spokeswoman Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the park in question, though it belongs to the government of Guam, is consigned to the company Lifesquared Inc., which has not kept up its part of the bargain to maintain the park.
"[The director] has already contacted them about the upkeep and will address it this coming week," Ms. Paco-San Agustin said.
The parks at Liguan Terrace are not the only ones that have fallen into disrepair. Across the island, children and athletes have dwindling choices - if any at all - of a public space within walking or biking distance from their homes to exercise, gather, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors.
"The mayor's office told us they're not going to clean the park because every time they clean it someone comes and trashes it again," one of the volleyball players said. When asked whether he and his friends were willing to continue cleaning the court, he said "Yes! Because we want to play volleyball there!"