Location Of Guam Base Revisited After Buildup Reduction

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Previously dismissed sites could accommodate lower numbers

By Brett Kelman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 4, 2012) – As the military takes another look at where to build a Marine base on Guam, locations that were previously dismissed as too small could be reconsidered -- including Naval Base Guam, Andersen South and even Radio Barrigada.

The military had previously considered six areas for the site of Marine family housing, according to military documents. Most of those areas were dismissed because they did not have enough available land, and the Finegayan area in Dededo was eventually selected.

However, the number of Marines and family members expected to move to Guam recently has shrunk to only a third of the original estimates, so the military announced on Wednesday it will rethink the placement of the Marine base.

The previously dismissed areas now may get a second look. They are Andersen Air Force Base, Navy Base, military properties in Barrigada and Andersen South and LeoPalace Resort, according to the Environmental Impact Statement.

The Dededo Marine base plan would have used about 2,580 acres in the Finegayan area, including about 680 acres of public land that would have to be acquired by the military. Most of the public land would be used for family housing, most of which will no longer be necessary under the revised buildup plan.

The original plan would have brought 8,600 Marines and about 12,000 dependents to Guam. The new plan will bring about 5,000 Marines -- two-thirds of which are rotational. The new estimate for dependents has been reduced to 1,300.

Joe Ludovici, the executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, said the military will restart the EIS process to reconsider the placement of this smaller Marine force. A final decision isn't due until early 2015.

"There is a footprint requirement for this new (buildup), and when we figure out what the requirement is... let's say it's 500 acres, would that fit at one of these sites? Can we jockey things around to make 500 acres -- and that's a hypothetical number -- available in these areas?" Ludovici said.

"And what does that do to those areas? Am I just transferring a problem from one area to another, and am I now having two major impacts or just one?" Ludovici said.

One of the options with the least public impact would be if the Marines could fold into one of Guam's existing military bases.

Andersen and Navy Base were previously dismissed because there was insufficient land on either facility to accommodate a large number of Marines and their families, the Environmental Impact Statement states.

In addition, the Navy houses much of its personnel outside of its base, in such areas as Apra Heights and Nimitz Hill, but this is "not ideal" for the Marines, the study states. Also, these Navy housing areas don't have enough space, the study states.

Radio Barrigada

The area known as Radio Barrigada also was dismissed because of lack of space, although the area has about 650 acres of unused land.

Radio Barrigada is part-owned by the Air Force and part-owned by the Navy. It has largely undeveloped land north of Route 16. The property includes a Navy golf course and communications towers, but much of the land is "underutilized," according to the final Environmental Impact Statement.

There are about 250 acres of land ready for development on the Navy property and about 400 acres ready for development on the Air Force property, with Admiral Nimitz Golf Course between the two, the military documents state.

Barrigada Mayor Jessie Palican said he would prefer to see this unused military property returned to its original landowners. However, if the space is instead used to house Marines, it must bring infrastructure improvements to Barrigada.

"If we can work together in a win-win situation regarding the infrastructure and utilities and some flooding issues I've had in the past, ... these are issues I hope we can bring to the table and say let's work together," Palican said.

Andersen South

North of Radio Barrigada is another military property that briefly was considered for the Marine base -- and could be considered again.

Andersen South is a 2,000-acre property that the military uses for urban warfare training, but largely consists of decaying, unused buildings. This area was ruled out because a base would "conflict with current and future training needs."

The "future needs" include a Marine firing range that originally was planned to be built adjacent to Andersen South, on the east side of Route 15. However, the military also is reconsidering the firing range site, which could move to the Naval Magazine in southern Guam.

Mark Calvo, the governor's buildup director, has said the military has shown interest in possibly moving the reduced Marine housing to Navy base if the firing range is shifted to the nearby Naval Magazine.

LeoPalace

Finally, the military also briefly considered housing Marines at LeoPalace, which is a large resort in central Guam. The resort was quickly dismissed and a lack of acreage wasn't the issue, the military documents state.

"The building requirements, including space allowances, for military housing are standardized and the existing LeoPalace units would not meet military standards and maximize the number of units per acre. LeoPalace was eliminated based on this reason and its incompatibility with future missions," the EIS states.

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