Monday, February 08, 2016

‘Navy Interests Should Be Included in Future Leasing Discussions’

Published by on January 26, 2016

By Dennis B. Chan

A U.S. Department of the Navy spokesman re-echoed Friday their claim to military use rights at the Tinian port, but said they do need not see any current conflict between their these rights and leases granted by the Commonwealth Ports Authority to commercial development.

The Navy’s desire is that military interests are part of the future and existing planning for leases, according to Joint Region Marianas public affairs officer Tim Gorman in an email.

Gorman was responding to questions from Saipan Tribune on the extent of their rights at the Tinian port, after a letter from Department of the Navy lawyer John Aguon to CPA lawyer Robert Torres surfaced, in which the former notes the Navy’s concern that current and future development at the Tinian port—including Bridge Investment Group’s $120-million casino resort—“may compromise DoD’s various rights.”

Gorman said that while JRM has become aware that the CPA has recently leased certain real property at the Tinian port to a private enterprise, “JRM does not see any current conflict with any CPA lease.“

“JRM personnel communicate and work with their CNMI counterparts on a wide variety of issues on a regular basis,” Gorman said. “In this instance, as the United States has certain rights contained in long-standing agreements with CNMI, such as the 1983 lease (as amended), JRM merely communicated its desire to continue to collaboratively work with the appropriate CNMI offices to help ensure that applicable DoD interests are part of the planning process in existing and future leasing actions. JRM will continue to work with our CPA colleagues to have fruitful discussions, just as we have regular discussions with our CNMI counterparts on other topics,” added Gorman.

In his January letter to CPA, Aguon reminds of these “longstanding agreements between the CNMI and Defense” that “authorize and guarantee DoD various military uses at the Tinian port and airport.”
“We desire to ensure these DoD rights are protected,” Aguon said. His letter notes that that certain portions of the port are currently leased to Bridge Investment Group—an investor building a reported casino resort on the Tinian wharf—and that in the future, “other portions of the Tinian port may be physically or legally encumbered by either Bridge or other private entities.”

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