by Nick Delgado
GUAM - The first public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was held Thursday evening at Southern High School in Santa Rita. Approximately 319 island residents participated, some to listen to proposed plans, while others provided comment on the marine relocation from Okinawa to Guam.
Joint Guam Program Office Chief of Staff colonel Paul Pohn presented the military's proposed actions for the buildup. Those proposals include developing and constructing facilities and infrastructure to support approximately 8,600 marines and their 9,000 dependants, a new deep-draft wharf and turning basin along with shore side infrastructure improvements to be constructed at Apra Harbor to support U.S. Navy transient nuclear aircraft carriers, and finally develop facilities and infrastructure to support relocating 600 military personnel and their 900 dependants to establish and operate an army air and missile defense task force.
Residents were informed that the hearing would only allow for them to submit comments, and not debate their concerns with military officials. While the population increase is dependant upon the funding available to begin the buildup, Pohn says the military's goal is to use as much DOD land as possible, as he says it's still too soon to determine what land is needed at this time.
Al San Agustin with the Chamoru tribe expressed how the military buildup would not be a good thing for the people of Guam, as it will negatively impact the future generations. Tribal chairman Frank Schacher says he has been carefully studying the draft EIS Schacher claims there is not one bit of information that shares the impacts of the Chamorro people. He adds that the DEIS Consists more of the questions that the military wants answered rather than what the people of Guam want.
Chamber of Commerce President David Leddy meanwhile expressed why the island needs the military's presence to help better Guam's economy.
Concerned resident Kenneth Leon guerrero shared his frustration with the lack of public safety information in the DEIS. Leon Guerrero questioned the lack of statistics that show the crime rate that the marines have committed off base in Okinawa, and how the military plans to mitigate the issue on Guam.
While local veteran Tom Barcinas stated that Guam and America need each other, he also said it is very sad to think that the Chamorro people will become the minority. Barcinas says the impact will compromise the island's culture, value, and language, which he says is a very high price to pay.
Resident Angel Santos questioned why Guam is the only place being selected over the other areas in the region. He fears that Guam will be more of an easy target with the increase in military.
Former Chamoru nations maga'haga Trini Torres says that it is not a done deal as she is determined to continue the fight to prevent the marine relocation. Torres expressed major frustration encouraging others to do the same.
Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao however stated that the military is not coming to bring war to the island, but to help the economy and defend the island for everyone living on it.
Residents were also given a summary explanation of the DEIS. At each station during the open house period. JGPO officials say all comments will now be included in volume 10 of the DEIS.
Residents have another opportunity to provide oral comment this Saturday at the University of Guam Field House in Mangilao. The public also has until February 17th to comment on the DEIS by logging onto www.guambuildupeis.us