Monday, October 12, 2009

DFS wants to discuss feds’ space needs at airport

DFS wants to discuss feds’ space needs at airport

Monday, 12 October 2009 00:00 By Andrew O. De Guzman - Variety News Staff
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DPS Saipan management wants to discuss with the Commonwealth Ports Authority the “adverse impact” of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s space requirements when U.S. immigration law takes effect in the CNMI on Nov. 28.

CPA forwarded DFS’s request to the governor’s special legal counsel Howard Willens.

“Attorney Willens communicated that [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] is not insisting that the space leased by DFS be made available by Nov. 28, 2009,” then-CPA Executive Director Efrain Camacho told DFS president Marian Aldan Pierce in a letter.

“In any event, the governor has made it clear that the commonwealth will not support or direct termination of the lease,” Camacho said.

DFS is paying CPA about $19,000 a month for the lease.

Press Secretary Charles Reyes Jr., in an e-mail to the Variety, said: “The governor’s staff is in close contact with DHS and CBP. We are working to achieve the smoothest transition possible and we expect more CBP officials to arrive later this month to continue our coordinated efforts to achieve the best possible outcomes for investors, workers, and all community stakeholders, as we transition into new and unprecedented federal immigration rules for the CNMI.”

In her letter to the CPA after they were informed of the federal authorities’ space requirements at the Saipan airport, Pierce said among the spaces identified by CBP is the warehouse space covering over 15,000 square feet of the terminal building’s airport and currently leased to DFS.

“Currently, DFS uses the space for storage of merchandise for our airport concession, offices and employee lounge for airport shop employees, including employee restroom facilities,” Pierce informed CPA.

“DFS is not without remedies under the concession agreement,” Pierce added.

These include consulting DFS, “fully compensating” the company or providing “suitable and comparable” facilities to replace the lost warehouse space under the agreement, she said.

“DFS hereby requests that we immediately commence consultations to determine how best to minimize the adverse impact the demands on DHS will have on our business and operations,” Pierce said.

Before he resigned as CPA’s executive director, Camacho told CBP San Francisco Field Office Operations Director Richard Vigna that the space requirements at the CNMI airports and seaports have “spawned great concerns.”

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