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NMI, DoD sign agreement for Tinian divert airfield

TINIAN — The Commonwealth and the Department of Defense signed a purchase agreement on Friday authorizing a 40-year lease of the Tinian airport for divert airfield purposes for $21.9 million.

The lessor is the Commonwealth Ports Authority while the lessee is the U.S. government.

The U.S. will make a onetime payment to CPA during the signing of the lease agreement in March.

CPA board member Kimberly King-Hinds said they still have to work on the terms and conditions of the agreement.

On Friday, the purchase agreement was signed by Thomas Villagomez as CPA board’s acting chairman and C. Hope Marini, real estate contracting officer of the Department of Defense, with Gov. Ralph Torres, Rear Adm. Soshana Chatfield, Joint Region Marianas commander, and Chris Tenorio, CPA executive director, as witnesses.

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres and Rep. Angel A. Demapan pose with the Tinian leadership as well as Commonwealth Ports Authority, Department of Defense and military officials after the signing of a purchase agreement that will allow the U.S. Air Force to lease the Tinian airport for divert airfield activities. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. VillahermosaGov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres and Rep. Angel A. Demapan pose with the Tinian leadership as well as Commonwealth Ports Authority, Department of Defense and military officials after the signing of a purchase agreement that will allow the U.S. Air Force to lease the Tinian airport for divert airfield activities. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

King-Hinds, a lawyer, negotiated on behalf of CPA.

The CPA board on Friday met in the Tinian mayor’s office conference room to adopt Resolution 2018-2006 which allows the U.S. Air Force to lease a portion of the Tinian airport for divert activities.

The governor thanked CPA and the DoD for taking a big step forward.

 “I can’t thank enough the Tinian leadership, CPA and our federal partners, the DoD,” he added.  “This has been a long process. This was not an idea brought up yesterday. This has been brought up by different leaders and officials. We want Tinian to be the only  divert airfield. DoD came back with a hybrid idea and we said no. I also want to thank [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Basing] Allison Sands for being instrumental in opening doors and communication lines. So many players made this happen. This is something we have worked on for years and this has nothing to do with the recovery effort…. This is totally under CPA. Tinian you are blessed to have this moving forward in the right direction and this is historic and something that we should be proud of.”

 Rep. Angel A. Demapan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the signing of the purchase agreement is the result of the hard work between the DoD and the CNMI.

“This is a good day for the people of Tinian and it’s been a privilege to work with the mayor, the delegation and CPA to advocate what is good and right for the people of Tinian and to fight for tangible benefits. We would not be able to move forward with this negotiation if not for the tangible benefits. We have to compromise   to successfully secure tangible benefits for the people of Tinian,” Demapan said.

“We are here at the heart of the ruins of Typhoon Yutu, but the work continues. We don’t put this government to stop because of the disaster. We show the people what resilience really is. Being resilient doesn’t mean we were born resilient. We make ourselves resilient because we act resiliently and today’s resiliency is not just about the people of the Marianas, but also our partnership with the U.S. government. We cannot be a more proud people than we are today.”

Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, who is not seeking re-election, said he was touched because

this historical event happened during his term, and that he was able to witness it.

He thanked the governor for protecting the interest of the people of Tinian as he again expressed gratitude to the DoD for its assistance in the typhoon recovery efforts.

Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield said she is happy that both parties have finally agreed on the lease.

 “It really demonstrates the growing trust and growing collaboration for this undertaking. I commend the efforts of all the persons involved in making this historical event possible and for coming up with an agreement acceptable to the DoD and the CNMI. I commend you all for the work done. It is difficult to come together in a negotiation, but that has happened…. I am thankful for being part of it and I am proud of today in anticipation of what is going to happen.”

CPA board member Kimberly King-Hinds said: “How the agreement would proceed and how it would move forward and what was mutually beneficial for both sides was the difficult part of this entire process. I have been very clear from the very beginning that on a personal level, I support and welcome the military and their training here on Tinian as long as it is not harmful or destructive to the people of Tinian, the environment and culture…. Over the last two years, we worked hard to separate the different proposals  that are currently before the commonwealth,  and to work on those proposals separately…. It’s always been the dream of the people of Tinian to have a strong…economy not just supported by the government but to have actual private businesses that flourish. A strong component of a strong economy is the airport  and seaport and so I think this lease money will go a long way toward allowing Tinian to be able to build capacity for a strong tourism industry while creating other investment opportunities.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/108812-nmi-dod-sign-agreement-for-tinian-divert-airfield

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