Guam – The Record of Decision has been signed. This marks the beginning of the military buildup on Guam. Although it was signed there are still some loose ends. For example DOD is holding off on it’s plans to use Pagat as a firing range complex.
Joint Guam Program Office Forward Executive Director David Bice called this a day of unprecedented opportunity for the people of Guam, but he also noted that the move of marines to Guam is far from done. “The record of decision is really a transition point” said Bice.
Now that the ROD is signed they will begin looking at awarding some contracts but most of the work probably won’t begin until 2011. One project that has been put on hold indefinitely is the military’s plans to put a firing range complex along Rt. 15 and in the Pagat area. “It is a preferred alternative,” said Bice but he added that the final decision on whether or not this area will be used as a firing range complex will have to wait until the consultation that is required under the section 106 process is complete.
This section 106 process falls under the National Historic Preservation Act or NHPA. The act requires that DOD consult with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office before construction. This is to ensure that they prevent or limit the damage done to historic artifacts and properties. DOD can do this either through a case by case process or through an all encompassing programmatic agreement. As you may recall Guam SHPO Lynda Aguon told PNC news she felt pressured to sign off on the agreement. In an interview last week Bice said that the programmatic agreement needed to be signed before the Record of Decision was signed. Guam SHPO hasn’t signed off and now Pagat has been pulled from the Record of Decision.
While the record of decision has been signed the military has yet to firm up it’s commitments from the government of japan to fund $740 million dollars for Guam’s infrastructure particularly waste-water drinking water, and power. Bice however is confident that this will happen soon. In the record of decision DOD also affirms it’s promise to create a Civilian Military Coordination Council or CMCC to control the pace of the buildup so that the island doesn’t outgrow it’s infrastructure. This CMCC must be formed 30 days from today. It will be co-chaired by the military and Gov Guam. Guam’s governor will be tasked with appointing Gov Guam members. The CMCC however will not have any real power to mandate anything. “There are no new regulatory powers,” said Bice in reference to the CMCC. According to Bice the CMCC will instead be able to make recommendations.
Bice remained confident today that DOD would be able to conduct the buildup in a way that is beneficial to both the civilian community and the military community.