“The EIS is still ongoing. Probably in March the draft will be released. The draft of the EIS will come out and it will tell you what we’ve been doing the last year since we did scoping. We will have public hearing on Tinian and Saipan,” said Marine Corps Activity Guam officer-in-charge Col. P. J. Zimmerman, who is currently on Saipan to meet with island leaders.
He said the military would also conduct briefings for government officials.
“I think there’s a 60-day period for public comment and sometime during that window we will give people a chance to review. They will address every input that they’ll get. Currently they’re conducting these ad-hoc meetings between the government officials of the Commonwealth and MarForPac planners and they’ve come out here four or five times over the last year and spent five days with officials of Tinian and with CNMI agency officials to go over the different options.”
As officer-in-charge of Marine Corps Activity Guam, Zimmerman said his role is to build relationships between the military and the people of the region.
“My role here is to build relationships. I’m not necessarily one of the planners of the EIS that’s going on. I’m here for community relations and to open communications. I’m the guy here in the region locally. I’m in Guam and I come up here and met with everyone interested in knowing more of the Marine Corps. If there’s a perceived gap, I’m more than happy to help engage and explain the Marine Corps’ position and where we are on the planning process.
Earlier this month Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Alex Sablan scored the military’s insistence of putting a planned divert airfield on Saipan instead of Tinian.
Sablan wrote in the organization’s monthly newsletter that placing the divert airfield on Tinian will have a substantial benefit on the island, while establishing it on Saipan will have a negative effect on the island’s recovering tourism industry.