Thursday, November 19, 2009

'One Guam, whole government': Local-federal partnerships lead to improvements to infrastructure

'One Guam, whole government': Local-federal partnerships lead to improvements to infrastructure

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • November 20, 2009

The local and federal governments must continue their "one Guam" approach to make sure the military buildup is done right and benefits everyone involved, a high-ranking federal official said yesterday.

Roger Natsuhara, acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment, was the keynote speaker at yesterday's legislative conference on the buildup.

The two-day conference, "The Military Buildup and Beyond: the Guam Perspective," continues today at the Legislature.

Natsuhara gave examples of how partnerships between the local and federal government have led to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for buildup-related projects and improvements to local infrastructure and facilities.

And more of those partnerships must be forged and strengthened to help Guam prepare for the anticipated population increase, expansion of military facilities, the demand on the island's roads and utilities, and the related economic, social and cultural impacts.

"Throughout all of this, I want to make it clear that we are committed to a 'one Guam, whole government' approach," Natsuhara said. "This realignment should be beneficial to all of us. By working together across the federal, local governments, we can assure that it will be."

Acting Speaker Rory Respicio said he was pleased to hear Natsuhara support a "one Guam community" concept.

"Our conference is being held to point out and discuss the effects the buildup will have on our civilian community," Respicio said. "It's good to know that the federal government, and especially the Department of Defense, has recognized the need for people on both sides of the fence to receive benefits from the buildup."

Natsuhara plays a critical role in deciding what military projects will be approved and where facilities will be built.

Starting tomorrow, residents will have a chance to view the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which provides a detailed account of how Guam's community will be affected by the changes caused by the buildup.

Natsuhara urged the public to review the report and give input during the 90-day comment period.

"It's important that we continue to receive your input so that as DOD continues to refine our plans, we'll continue to find ways to minimize our impact," he said.

Several public hearings will be held in January for people to ask questions about the EIS study and for comments to be officially recorded.

Gov. Felix Camacho, in his opening address, talked about balancing the needs of the military buildup and the island community.

"Though the buildup offers our island great opportunity, these opportunities will only be as great as our ability to capitalize on them," he said, referring to the need to ensure the buildup is done right. "Doing it right means that our people will not be asked to trade the values that make Guam unique for the opportunities that make Guam prosperous. We seek balance."

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