Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Scarce crowd at DEIS expo

Scarce crowd at DEIS expo

Tuesday, 15 December 2009 00:31
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff

THE government-sponsored Natural Resources Expo, which provided a forum for a public review of the draft environmental impact statement at Guam Premier Outlets in Tamuning, failed to draw interest from the public.

The expo, held at the vacant store next to Bestseller Books, sought to highlight and inform the public about the issues and concerns raised by the military impact report but it was a ghost town.

The Variety staff found only five people sitting and standing around the large vacant store space.

Despite the dismal showing all day, as observed by Variety, the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Governor’s Civilian Military Task Force insisted the forum drew about 150 to 200 people. The figure was based not on a body count, rather by determining how many T-shirts were ultimately passed out by expo staff who were more often than not outside most of the day until the end of the event.

“We had a low turnout, but we hope to build on this,” said Elaina Todd, NOAA coral fellow and assistant coordinator for the expo.

Todd said she really did not think the numbers were low because of lack of interest. She said some people had a hard time finding the forum venue.

The expo took place inside the empty shop formerly occupied by the PC Outlet. At the front of the mall wing, expo organizers had placed large signs and colorful graphics, but most passersby simply ignored the event, according to an employee at the adjacent bookstore.

Even a temporary iceless skating rink setup to benefit habitat for Humanity within the same space failed to lure many interested residents into the expo space.

“The good thing is the people that did come stayed, because they were engaged. It was very interactive, and people were able to ask questions and have a really good dialogue with the presenters,” said Todd.

Some people interviewed by Variety expressed little interest in the military impact study. “They pay people lots of money to worry about it, so I am not going to,” said Janet Miranda, a resident of Chalan Pago.

“There is no point. They gave us an 11,000 page document which we cannot read. There is no point because it is a done deal,” said Filamore Palomo Alcon, owner of Guam Gallery of Art in Chamorro Village.

Todd promised to have a better venue for the next event in January. “This will give people a chance to see what the resource agencies are doing with the [draft study],” said Todd. “We learned from this one.”

She said the next event will have presentations and will be held in a better location.

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