BUILDUP RELOCATION WORRIES GUAM LEADERS

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Projected development for communities may fall through

By Brett Kelman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 6, 2012) – If the proposed location for the Marine base were to shift out of Dededo, the village would miss out on some economic benefits, but it won't have to worry about further strain caused by crowded schools and increased traffic.

Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said this yesterday when asked about the possibility that a reduced buildup could move the Marines from the Finegayan area to the Naval Base Guam.

Savares is a buildup supporter, and her village -- which is the most populated on Guam -- has been preparing for a buildup-related population spike for years.

If the Marine base will not be built in Finegayan, that spike would disappear.

"With a smaller scale and a reduced budget that the Department of Defense is anticipating, and if the Naval base can handle the population, what can we do, right?" Savares said yesterday. "It's OK. At least we don't have to do the additional work that is needed to accommodate the families and personnel coming in."

The official buildup plan still places the Marine base along Route 3 in Dededo, where the military plans to use about 680 acres of civilian land. However, on Wednesday, two GovGuam buildup officials said they had discussed with the Joint Guam Program Office the possibility that the Marines could move to Naval Base.

The military said previously that 8,600 Marines couldn't fit on the existing Naval Base, but the Marine force being relocated to Guam has since shrunk to 4,700 Marines. This reduction prompted the "possibility" that the Marines could be housed on the Navy base, said Mark Calvo, the governor's buildup director, and Richard Wyttenbach-Santos, a senior policy adviser for Sen. Judith Guthertz, who is the Legislature's buildup chairwoman.

If this shift would occur, it might not be necessary to install infrastructure upgrades in Dededo -- like the widening of Route 3 or the expansion of the wastewater system -- which the military plans to pay for, Savares said.

The village also wouldn't benefit from a great deal of construction, and the spillover economic activity, Savares said. Still, the buildup is expected to create jobs and opportunity for residents all over Guam, and that would still be true for Dededo.

"Whatever the situation may be, we continue to get the skills to provide for our families, whether the shift be to the north or south," Savares said. "As long as it is here on Guam, I still believe our entire population will benefit."

Firing range

The decision on where to build the Marine base hinges heavily on the decision on where to build a Marine firing range, Calvo said on Monday.

The military initially planned to build the range along Route 15 -- about five miles from the Finegayan base site -- but now they are considering building it at Naval Magazine -- about five miles from Naval Base.

The initial public scoping period for this decision ends tonight. Calvo said several GovGuam agencies would be submitting comments, and Guthertz released her comments to the public on Wednesday.

In her comments, Guthertz explains that she prefers the three Naval Magazine options to the Route 15 options, and she prefers the "North-South" Naval Magazine layout the most. This layout would use the least amount of civilian land -- only about 113 acres.

"The three potential sites at Naval Magazine indicate to me what can be achieved when military planners have open minds and sensitivity," Guthertz wrote in her firing range comments.

Raceway federation

The Guam Raceway Federation also issued a press release yesterday asking the public to oppose the Route 15 firing range to protect the Guam International Raceway in Yigo.

The federation is asking people to send "Please don't take our racetrack" emails to Guam_LFTRC_SEIS@navy.mil by today.

The federation stated the raceway "is under assault, and the time to inform the military to choose another location for their Marine shooting range" expires today.

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