The government of Guam will ask the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to return almost 2 000 acres of federally held property including Andy South.

The Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority put together a paper that could be used as an argument before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to release 1 715 acres of federal and military land.

The Journal obtained a copy of the list of properties the government suggests be returned contained in a paper: “BRAC 2005 Potential Realignment of Military Lands in Guam”.

Antonio C. “Tony” Lamorena V communications director in the office of the governor said Michael J. Cruz manager of the real property division at GEDCA formulated the list. The list comes with an introduction that sets out some of the history of federal land ownership on Guam and relevant dates.

The narrative reads “Currently there are at least 1 715 acres of lands that remain under the ownership of the Navy and Air Force that appear to be unused and may be considered excess to current and future military operational administrative training and quality of life needs. These potentially excess lands are generally small parcels located outside of the main military bases. The government of Guam may attempt to include such lands under the BRAC 2005 transfer process.”

At a time when the private sector and local government leaders are lobbying for an increase in military presence on Guam the GovGuam report notes the sensitivity of requesting the release of Department of Defense and other federally held properties.

“However extreme care must be taken to ensure that DoD and the Congress do not view local efforts at land return as opposition to military presence in Guam. On the contrary all sectors of Guam desire increases in military presence and efforts to obtain excess military lands are simply recognition of the finite amount of land available for development in a small island environment ” the cover-page states.

Lamorena reiterated that sentiment. “We are still in favor of military buildup. We want the military to bring in additional manpower and equipment to the island. It’s just that if you’re not using these properties and they’re not a part of your buildup — then release them.”

Lamorena said the administration also set up a task force to discuss the possibility of the land releases.

“There are some properties for example like the Andy (Andersen) South properties which were listed in the GLUP ’94 (1994 Guam Land Use Plan). Now the reason why it was never addressed in BRAC ‘95 was because BRAC ’95 when it was passed only included Navy. So the GLUP ’94 properties which were Air Force properties — Andy South — were not included in the BRAC. So what we are trying to do is include those properties into BRAC 2005.”

The Journal reported in its May 16 edition (See “No aircraft carrier … but Marines for Andy South in two years”) that Andy South is being considered as a location for permanent use by U.S. Marines.

Other media on Guam and in Hawaii have subsequently carried stories with the same information.

The story said in part “the island can expect to see — within two years — U.S. Marines at Andersen South and the stationing of five amphibious warfare ships on Guam. Amphibious warfare ships carry a U.S. Marines force.” Lamorena said “That is why we have involved the military in the task force but Andy South was originally included in GLUP ’94. So it’s not like we were the ones who said the military should give it up it was the military who identified it as excess property.”

According to Lamorena other properties listed are abandoned and sitting idle. He said the task force includes representation from the Air Force and the Navy “so that they can check with their superiors to see if in fact there are any long term plans for these properties.”

Monty M. McDowell president and general manager of Advance Management Inc. and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce said “We support the military and we support the people of Guam. If BRAC is going to include return of some excess land — will the chamber support it? I don’t know; but if it’s beneficial to the local people and it’s beneficial to the federal government then the chances are the chamber would support it. We’re for all the people of Guam but we also have very close relationships with the Department of Defense and we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize that.”

Lamorena said the listed properties are outside the gates of the major installations such as Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Station.

The cover page of the list states that Guam experienced base closures and realignments previously in 1993 and 1995 but that these were outside of Guam’s importance to the United States.

“Our BRAC experience clearly demonstrates that Guam’s strategic military value will not be adversely affected by the release and transfer of isolated pockets of military real estate located outside high value military installations.”

According to the list there are 244 acres of current Navy property that could have the potential to become excess. The list also states there are 1 471 acres under Air Force control that could be deemed excess. The former Navy Public Works Center Utilities Department Naval Station/Apra Heights Apra Heights Quonset Site former National Weather Service former Federal Aviation Administration housing NCTAMS “triangle” site and Agat “triangle” are properties held by the Navy. The Australian Cable housing Tumon Tank Farm Potts Junction Tank Farm and Andersen South/Marbo site are listed as properties currently held by the Air Force.

The narrative with the list notes the federal government previously owned 47 041 acres in Guam and that 5 072 acres were transferred to the government of Guam via the U.S. General Services Administration and BRAC.

The transferred land referenced includes Tiyan formerly Naval Air Station 1 742.5 acres returned to the government of Guam Sept. 27 2000 about 88 acres formerly officers’ housing at Tiyan returned to GovGuam April 25 2001 and 862 acres of the Harmon cliff line returned July 26 2002.

Federally held property accounts for about a third of Guam’s land. Navy held land comprises aboout 26 190 acres and Air Force held land comprises approximately 19 936 acres. Apart from land held by the military about one-third of Guam’s land is held by GovGuam. Several agencies have a role managing or dispersing government holdings. The Chamorro Land Trust Commission holds 12 731 acres in its inventory. Department of the Interior lands comprise 319.9 acres. MBJ