Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds assured the Tinian community yesterday that CPA is hard at work to make their dream of having direct international flights a reality.
King-Hinds also disclosed that CPA recently put out a request for proposals to revitalize its Tinian Marina Dock, with a plan to use a portion of the $1.9 million that has been allocated for the improvement of the island’s seaport.
That $1.9 million comes from the $21.9 million that CPA received from the U.S. Department of Defense for the 40-year lease agreement for certain airport and seaport properties on Tinian for the U.S. Air Force’s divert airfield.
King-Hinds acknowledged that she’s been getting a lot of inquiries about where that $21.9 million is now, that people have been asking how those funds will be spent, if they have already been touched, and why it has not been spent to make improvements on Tinian.
King-Hinds said she understands and appreciates the anxiety of the Tinian community, given that its people have sacrificed so much already in terms of public lands and development because of their relationship with DOD, and that everyone is looking to see the benefit of the bargain of that relationship.
She said the divert airfield lease proceeds are intended to make improvements so that Tinian develops the airport to realize the community’s dream of welcoming direct international flights.
“Those plans have not changed and CPA will work tirelessly to make that dream a reality,” King-Hinds said.
With respect to the Tinian Marina Dock improvement project, King-Hinds said that the request for proposals is to pave the parking lot for cars and boats and build a restroom and washdown facility, a mural and two pavilions.
She said the $20 million of the $21.9 million is reserved to build infrastructure at the Tinian airport that would allow the accommodation of international flights.
Specifically, King-Hinds said, CPA intends to build a fuel storage farm and infrastructure to accommodate both federal requirements by Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration for international travelers.
She said the cost improvements as suggested by the recent Tinian International Airport master plan will cost over $20 million.
Right now, King-Hinds said, they are trying to figure out how to minimize that cost by timing some of these improvements with the divert airfield construction to see if they can work out an agreement whereby CPA could reduce some of these costs.
In May 2019, CPA received the lump-sum payment of $21.9 million after CPA, the CNMI government, and DOD signed the 40-year lease agreement. The deal will allow the Air Force to use Tinian as an alternative landing site for its planes—a divert airfield—in case Anderson Air Force Base in Guam is inaccessible due to war or calamities.
The lease agreement has reportedly spurred economic activities on the island.