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Programmatic Agreement meeting at Okkodo

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - A public meeting on what has become a controversial agreement on how the Navy will handle the buildup in relation to historical properties is scheduled for this evening at Okkodo High School. Two federal officials are on island for the meeting in hopes to gather some public input on the Programmatic Agreement.

Assistant director for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Caroline Hall is on island to support the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and participate in the public meetings on the Programmatic Agreement. "The process we are all working under is Section 106 of National Historic Preservation Act and the organization that I work for, ACHP, is the agency under the law that is actually given the responsibility for ensuring that process is completed by federal agencies," she explained.

The agency, which advises the president and Congress on national historic preservation policy, wrote to the Navy in late-September asking for assurances that the Record of Decision does not rule out other options for relocation of the Marines firing range. "The position of the counsel is and continues to be that the navy needs to follow the process that is set up by Section 106, and we will have lots of information on that at the meeting tonight to help the public understand what that process is," Hall continued.

The Navy has decided to hold off on a final decision on the location of a firing range at Pagat until the Section 106 process is complete.  

Attorney Leevin Camacho, member of We Are Guahan, says while he is very please the public meeting are finally happening, says the timing is somewhat questionable. He says it may be hard to expect people to rally two days after the election, saying, "They have come in at such a really random time the out going senators haven't really had enough time to figure out what's going on.  The new governor hasn't had time to figure out what their position is going to be with the Programmatic Agreement and what their stance is going to be on the impact of historic properties, as well as the new senators. So we are in an area of transition, in some ways."

As for Hall, she says she hopes to see the PA process come to a resolution in the upcoming weeks. She explained, "So we are still hopeful that there is room to reach an agreement under Section 106 for this process and agreement that would have the Navy work with the SHPO and that would protect and plan for the use of wherever the historic properties are on the island that might be impacted by the Navy's plans and the other DoD service plans."

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