Guthertz Rejects U.S. DOE’s Explanation for Reclaiming 80 Acres of Guam Land

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Guam – The Legislature’s Buildup Committee Chair, Senator Judi Guthertz, is rejecting U.S. DOE’s explanation for its decision to reclaim 80 acres of Guam land that had been turned over to GovGuam in the 1990’s for school construction.

A letter from U.S. DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Winona H. Vardon informs  Senator Guthertz that the 1992 land transfer was to support local construction of a high school at the Marbo site by 1995, but Vardon writes that “to date, there is no high school constructed on the Marbo property and the property is not being used for any educational purpose.”  

Senator Guthertz responds that Assistant Secretary Vardon’s two page official letter “makes no reference to the buildup and the new and urgent demands it will place on the Guam educational system.” And she wants Vardon “to  explain  why  it  waited  until  the official  start  of  the  Guam buildup  to  ‘repossess’ ” the land.

Read Assistant Secretary Vardon’s letter to Senator Guthertz

In her response letter to Vardon, Guthertz writes, “As  you  spell  out  in  cold  and  bloodless  prose,  yes,  the  Government  of  Guam  is  in  technical
default of the agreement and has been for a number of years, due to lack of funding to proceed with  school  construction,  which  can  hardly  be  unusual  in  many  of  the  areas  under  your jurisdiction.”

Read Senator Guthertz’s response letter to Assistant Secretary Vardon

The property is currently intended as a site for a new high school and middle school.  But the Senator suspects that U.S. DOE actually wants the land back in order to turn it over to the military to provide additional land for the firing range complex planned in the area or to build additional Department of Defense schools on the property.

The Senator also argues that U.S. DOE  “certainly  must  be  aware  of  the  projected  increases  of  the school‐age population of Guam, largely due to new pressures from the military buildup. “We would have thought USDOE’s thoughts would be on the educational needs of these many new students,” writes Guthertz, “rather than reclaiming a piece of undeveloped property.”