Tinian Mayor Critical Of Military Use Of Islands

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Dela Cruz opposes plan unless economic development continues

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 31, 2014) –Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz has made his opposition clear to the U.S. Department of Defense’s military buildup plans, unless Tinian is allowed to progress with its economic development.

In a letter to Gov. Eloy S. Inos on Monday, Dela Cruz noted that there is a still a pending release of the Commonwealth Joint Military Training plan draft Environmental Impact Study by Marine Forces Pacific or MarForPac that details how they want to maximize the use of Tinian leased lands.

Dela Cruz told Inos that Tinian agrees that DoD has the right to develop their Tinian leased lands within the parameters of the Covenant and the original lease agreement and that the economic development of Tinian must be allowed to progress unimpeded by any proposed military development of their leased lands.

"Particularly any plan that might interfere with Tinian’s air and sea space, both of which are critical to this community’s economic development," Dela Cruz said.

He said that Tinian also opposes the creation of a "High Impact Area" for heavy artillery or helicopter rocket attacks on their island.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Dela Cruz had insisted that the military clean up the old mortar range at Chiget before considering another range. After five years, Dela Cruz claims that they have not been able to clean it up.

According to him, the Chiget mortar range is now by definition a "Dudded Impact Area"–an area used to contain non-explosive military munitions that may be temporarily used to contain non-sensitive, high explosive, and military munitions.

"The CNMI should sue DoD for violating the parameters of their lease agreement," Dela Cruz said.

He said that if MarForPac’s plan is approved with its proposed artillery range, it would ultimately result in the destruction of historic sites such as North Broadway, the Hinode Shine and the American Memorial Shrine that was built by U.S Navy Seabees in memory of all who served on Tinian during World War II.

Dela Cruz recommended to Inos that the CNMI Legislature create a "sufficiently funded independent military development commission" with high hopes of cooperation from the Governor’s Office to deal with the seriousness of the military buildup plans.

Tinian Dynasty needs to stay

Dela Cruz also finds it hard to believe the recent decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to issue a blanket denial for Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino employee contracts, even when the new owner has done everything to rectify mistakes made by the past owners, is not related to the militarization of the NMI.

"This decision was made by Washington, D.C by federal officials amongst each other. They had to recognize that such a decision would not only gut the economy of Tinian and throw hundreds of Americans out of work," Dela Cruz said.

He believes this could repeat the fall of the garment industry and that Tinian Dynasty is of the utmost importance for Tinian’s future economic development.

"Obviously, the loss of CNMI revenues from the closure of Dynasty will far outweigh any potential long term financial benefit the CNMI might hope to receive from the proposed military training activities on Tinian, which tells us there is very little concern in Washington, D.C over the condition of the CNMI economy," he said.

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