For those Seabees now on Tinian who may have read about the CNMI legislative resolution castigating the U.S. Military, please be assured that the majority of us on Tinian, especially we veterans, do not agree with the content or intent of the resolution.
We are very thankful for all that the U.S. Navy Seabees and Marines have done for the people of Tinian since Super Typhoon Yutu, helping rebuild our homes and our community. We appreciate very sincerely your recent reconstruction of the Tinian Children’s Park, knowing that you were undoubtedly thinking of your own families and children as you sweated under Tinian’s hot sun for our children and our families.
It is unfortunate that a few individuals have forgotten that it was a deal made with the U.S. Department of Defense back in 1975 that led to the creation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands through a Covenant that was negotiated between equals under the basic concept of mutual consent. It also led to the creation of the CNMI Constitution. Thus the CNMI enjoys a political status far superior to any other territory of the United States and the DoD leases— not owns—two thirds of Tinian. It is worthy to note that the lease agreement has been modified more than once at the request of the people of Tinian. Today, fully one half of the leased lands are now under a “leaseback” agreement and are home to a large number of Tinian’s cattle ranches.
Some individuals in high office have apparently also forgotten that when the DoD made a bad offer, such as in the Commonwealth Joint Military Training plan, incorporating a high impact artillery range on Tinian, which would have created a “duded area” around the north Broadway circle, we said, “No!” And, the plan was dropped. This demonstrated that the EIS system works and needs no further comment. However, if the military were to make a new proposal to utilize their leased lands on Tinian that would be mutually beneficial, it would receive a fair hearing from the people of Tinian.
As an example, the Department of the Air Force requested a lease on a parcel of land immediately adjacent to the existing Tinian commuter terminal. This, too, went through the EIS procedure. Fortunately, our Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors was able to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement wherein the DoD received the lease they needed to construct a divert facility and the CPA received a $20 some million lease payment to build the facilities Tinian needed to turn what is now the world’s largest commuter terminal into an international airport. Those lease funds will also pay for the reconstruction of our dock and pave the roads in Marpo Heights II Subdivision. This, again, demonstrated that the system works. The Seabees are now prepared to begin work on the harbor and the road paving program. And when the $350-million construction project begins later this year, it will produce a significant windfall of jobs and revenues not just for Tinian but for the CNMI.
The people of Tinian do need to meet with Joint Region Marianas to discuss the condition of the roads on the leased lands, which have deteriorated significantly over the 75 years since the Seabees created and paved them. This can be done amicably through the Tinian Civilian-Military Advisory Council, as provided for in the Technical Agreement to the Covenant. Unfortunately, although JRM is has been favorable toward the establishment of this council, the last three governors of the CNMI have refused to authorize its creation. This would be an appropriate subject for a legislative resolution.
Bottom line—the system works and should be respected by the CNMI leadership.
Don A. Farrell
Marpo Heights, Tinian