Guthertz: Notes on Friday’s Contentious Programmatic Agreement Meeting

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Guam – Senator Judi Guthertz, Chair of the Legislature’s Buildup Committee,  has released a summary of the events that occurred at the Programmatic Agreement meeting which was held behind closed doors at Adelup Friday.

The Navy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Environment Donald Schregardus got a first-hand taste of local complaints about how Guam military buildup issues have beenhandled from the beginning by the military, largely through one-on-one negotiations with Governor Felix P. Camacho’s executive branch which have rarely been shared with anyone outside of Adelup.

The setting was a closed door meeting on the draft Programmatic Agreement with themilitary, which will control how historic sites and properties are handled in the course ofbuildup construction, as required by federal law.

Two island Senators and members of local activist groups arrived at an Adelup conference room Friday afternoon, only to be initially barred from entrance by GovernorCamacho spokesman Sean Gumataotao and Randy Sablan, Environmental Officer for the Joint Guam Program Office.
The excluded parties were shortly allowed into the meeting, but not before the noise andlarge crowd reportedly led the Guam Police Department to position its SWAT squad nearby.

Activists spent three hours objecting to Thursday night‟s „public meeting‟ on the Programmatic Agreement historic preservation for the buildup, which they said offeredno opportunity to present testimony or to discuss issues such as Guam self determination and military land takings past and present. But they were particularly vocal in their objections to the location of the firing range complex in the Pagat area. They want Pagat removed from the draft agreement and at a minimum, located on existing military property.

The Navy has been seeking incentives for the Guam State Historic Preservation Office to sign off on the PA, but SHPO hasn‟t budged, particularly objecting to a provision that the agreement be required to cover every possible historic site or issue that might arise during the buildup.

Secretary Schregardus offered a number of concessions, including that the Legislature and three civic groups—We Are Guahan, the Chamorru Nation and residents of the Pagat area—will have a seat at the table as the Programmatic Agreement is implemented.

Shregardus also promised that each project would be considered individually and a professional, federally funded archaeologist would be assigned “each time they disturb the earth.” He also promised $5 million federal funds would be sought from Congress for a museum and curation of artifacts discovered.
Senator Guthertz said she is not optimistic that any of the promises and commitments made by the Undersecretary [Schregardus] will be fulfilled, especially the commitment to provide $5 million for a Guam museum. The new U.S. Congress may not be in the mood to appropriate U.S. tax dollars for such a purpose, she suggested.

Would this be a museum for the people of Guam or a facility under the control of the military located on military land, Senator Guthertz wondered?
Guthertz said, “Such promises should never justify our giving in to what the military wants for the Programmatic Agreement. We must be aggressive in protecting Guam’s cultural heritage.”

Public comments on the agreement are still being accepted, but Secretary Schregardus set a Thanksgiving time frame for acceptance or rejection of the federal, offer.‟