Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Military open to public dialog

Military open to public dialog

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:46
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

Third in a series

THE military is open to dialog with communities that are affected by military presence, according to Celeste Werner, vice president of Matrix Design Group, which is the prime contractor of the governor’s Advisory Consulting Team.

“What people don’t understand is that the military really do their best to evaluate every single possible option to make sure there is less impact to the community because the community is really important to them,” Werner said.

“Over the years, it has become more important. With the pressure with [bases realignment and closure] happening and there’s going to be another one, all communities are doing their best to prevent whatever mission they may have in their community would not be at risk because, almost every community where there is a military installation is one of their primary economic development industries,” said Werner.

Werner said the military emphasizes working with the local community since it realizes the significance of investing a huge amount of money in that community for that particular mission.

Werner said the compatibility sustainability study will factor three components: understanding, collaboration and actions.

Understanding increases communications between stakeholders: the military, GovGuam, the public non government organizations and others in the community.

“To have a shared understanding basically of what the strong economic and fiscal relationships and benefits are with all the stakeholders, the military and GovGuam moving forward together is key,” said Werner.

Werner said there are strategies that will address the compatibility issues identified earlier.

“These are either compatibility issues that exist today with the mission or current economic liability of Guam and/or the future missions as well,” she said. “Strategies are like tools. They can be policies they can be programs; they could be proposed legislation; proposed changes to military operations.”

The message, Werner added, is that “we want to make sure that GovGuam understands that these strategies are for everyone and not just for the military.”

“These are strategies that are compatible for everybody, and not just the military, and we try to bring all stakeholders together to identify fairly what everyone can do,” said Werner.

“For example, can they change their operations of a mission, meaning, the time they operate. Can we compromise. Can they maybe do it not on the weekends, possibly? What’s the compromise there?”

“Or flyovers where the area is heavily populated. Can they change that flight track?” Werner said this was one of the most complex and most difficult ones to change. “Because there’s a bigger entity: the [Federal Aviation Authority]. And there’s one above the FAA that we have no control over and that’s Mother Nature.”

Werner said education is two-way process. “We will try to educate the military on how GovGuam operates and what their plans are, how does legislation work, what the government’s vision is. And vice versa- what is the military trying to achieve and why are they trying to achieve it,” said Werner.

The first workshop on military buildup was held last night at the Tamuning Community Center. The second workshop is scheduled for tonight at the Dededo Community Center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., followed by the last workshop scheduled for tomorrow at the Agat Community Center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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