Record of Decision delayed, but buildup still happening - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Record of Decision delayed, but buildup still happening

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While it was initially expected to be signed in late spring, it appears there has been a slight delay with the Record of Decision. What it all means for the military buildup on Guam?

"This buildup is still happening," promised Guam governor Eddie Calvo. And while it's been in the works for nearly a decade, Calvo gives his assurance that the military buildup is still moving forward despite a slight delay in the Record of Decision. "Originally we were looking at late June for the Record of Decision, but there's been a delay and we're hopeful it will be late summer. A lot of it has to do with the issues that have been brought forth by the Navy and Fish and Wildlife," he added.

Following a trip to Washingtn, DC back in March, Governor Calvo noted officials told him the Record of Decision was expected in late spring - a date he says was before June 26.

Joint Guam Program Office deputy director Major Darren Alvarez confirms the delay is a result of the Navy and US Fish & Wildlife still in final consultations, adding, "They are continuing to do these consultations and really what they're focusing on is making sure there are enough recovery habitat in the northern area of Guam to support the recovery of the Micronesian Kingfisher, which is an endangered species."

These consultations he says are based on the preferred alternatives outlined in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Alvarez continued, "We've got the main side base or cantonment, which is going to be at Finegayan, where most of the Marines themselves will be. The range is still looking at Northwest Field, and right now also the housing that was the one change from the draft is the housing is over at Andersen now, so instead of having to cut down in some of the areas in Finegayan, they've displaced it over to Andersen to augment the housing there. So those are still our preferred alternatives right now."

Once the Final SEIS is completed, the Record of Decision will follow shortly thereafter sometime this summer. "So the Record of Decision is actually, no kidding, after the study has totally been done is going to be the decision by the decision makers in Washington, DC that this is the path we're going to go forward, out of all our choices, this is the one we're going to select," he said.

Like Governor Calvo, Alvarez also offers his assurance that despite this slight delay, the buildup will in fact move forward. "Again, we've executed probably about $350 million to $400 million worth of work on this buildup. So yes, I believe it's still going to continue forward, I don't think we're worried about that," he said.

The overall bill for the buildup is pegged at $8.9 billion. Alvarez says the buildup will result in 5,000 active duty Marines, two-thirds of which will be here for six-month rotation only. He says an additional 1,300 dependents will be joining the third of those Marines who are permanently stationed on Guam. While it's a 66% reduction of total people, he says it is more manageable infrastructure-wise for the island.

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