Hofschneider: Tinian airfield brings several benefits



A Tinian senator is enthusiastic over what he described as anticipated benefits associated with the establishment of a divert airfield for the U.S. Air Force on Tinian.

Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) told Saipan Tribune that basing off his meeting with the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense last Oct. 31, 2017, Tinian would get numerous benefits, including increased economic activity, infrastructure improvements, and agricultural support.

Hofschneider said the U.S. military would require additional land it would lease from the Commonwealth Ports Authority. That’s not including the “potential contribution” to infrastructural improvements at the Tinian airport, which allows CPA to obtain monthly lease payments as well as a large relief for airport improvements, he said.

The Tinian municipality, Hofschneider said, will submit a listing of roads that needs pavement and rehabilitation according to priorities set by the municipality, including details of the solid waste development plan and its operation.

Third, the divert project requires water wells.

“Once construction [of the wells are] done, these wells may be utilized by CPA [and could be used for] distribution to the surrounding grazing activities on the island,” said Hofschneider.

“[The Tinian divert airfield] will be another economic benefit besides tourism and the gaming industry. Diversity is a good thing for the CNMI’s economy, as it creates stability as well as potentially attracting other business opportunities that can complement what we have now and for the future,” he added.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres stated in a previous interview that Tinian’s goals would be reached.

“We have committed to the [Department of Defense] that this is going to be a long-term relationship and I believe I have seen real commitment from the DOD. I believe that the negotiation was achieved and that this is the right time for us to move forward on the airport layout plan,” said Torres.

Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) said it was always his position that any activity impacting Tinian should also include “tangible positive benefits to the people who will be directly impacted, which is the community here.”

“I wish CPA and the DOD a successful negotiation process in the coming months and look forward to a mutually beneficial agreement for the Commonwealth, the U.S. Air Force, and most especially the people of Tinian,” he said.

The CPA board unanimously approved in a meeting last Tuesday the USAF’s proposed airport layout plan, or ALP, and also allowed divert training activities and exercises on Tinian.

“…This signals the beginning of the details of the plans for the construction of the divert airfield,” said Hofschneider, adding that the CPA decision to approve the ALP was a “key component” in the development.

The Tinian divert airfield project proposes to set up an alternative landing site for U.S. Air Force planes in case the Anderson Air Force Base airfield in Guam is not available due to war or disaster.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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