Airport, feds consider plight of original landowners
by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM News
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
After decades of waiting for the return of their property in Tiyan, original landowners have become the focus of concerns by the Airport and the Federal Highway Administration. While the local government returned the Tiyan land to their rightful owners, it appears there's no security as the feds and Government of Guam already have a plan for their property.
Ten years ago the Federal Aviation Administration turned over more than 1,400 acres of property in Tiyan to the Guam International Airport Authority. Executive manager Jess Torres says that property extends from the Airport runway to the Police Chief's Office. He explained, "When it was deeded back to the airport there were certain restrictions on those deeds among other things that I'm aware of that whatever property we got back from the FAA, from the navy via the FAA to the airport is to be used for Airport needs and airport uses."
But since the deed was signed, the Camacho Administration recently returned a large portion of the Tiyan land back to original landowners. So with an agreement with the FAA to use the property for Airport operations and original landowners occupying their property, Torres admits he's in a dilemma. "That's the challenge among other things that we need to look into. The airport on that specific issue has not taken a position officially. I haven't had the opportunity to bring this before the board," he said.
When the GovGuam official was asked if original landowners who have recently moved into those Airport properties should be concerned that the Airport will have to take that back, Torres replied, "I can't speak for them but I would imagine that they should exhibit some degree of concern. But like anything else if it requires us to sit down and try to resolve it that's the direction we will go."
In fact discussions are slated to take place on Thursday. But there's a twist as the Tiyan properties in question are also the subject of concerns by the Federal Highway Administration. Department of Public Works acting director Larry Perez confirms a FHA representative will arrive on island on Wednesday for a quarterly visit.
While a portion of the talks will focus on DPW's federally funded highway projects, Perez admits the feds have received concerns from original landowners. While the local government returned their property, that same land is the part of DPW's master plan to construct an access road between Route 1 and Route 8. Perez explained, "They have concerns about how the 2020 master plan is going to be implemented and their quote unquote rights to these properties and what's the government stance on a remedy for this."
What that remedy will be and what the future holds for original landowners settled in Tiyan are questions officials hope will be answered before the end of the week.
Here's the response from the Pacific Daily News, (How is it possible given the way that the PDN constructs democracy and politics, that these politicians and their narrow interests would get them re-elected? Wouldn't their narrow focus, thus estrange them from the majority who's interests they aren't interested in?):
Some of the people who received land on Tiyan via local laws that gave the properties to the families of ancestral owners may end up having the government reclaim their lots.
Parcels of the returned property were supposed to be dedicated toward highway projects and airport use, both of which involve federal agencies. Government of Guam officials say that federal officials have "expressed some concerns" over some of the returned land.
The problems can be traced back the elected officials who chose to serve themselves. They basically bought a few votes by returning Tiyan land to families of the ancestral landowners.
When the federal government declared the former Naval Air Station excess federal property and returned it to the government of Guam, there was a great opportunity to significantly benefit this community.
The original plan called for dedicating some of the land to the airport for existing operations, expansion and capital improvement.
Also, parcels were set aside for economic development -- some of the property was to have been leased by the government to private businesses to stimulate the economy. This could have created new opportunities and jobs. It also would have meant additional government revenue and strengthened the government's assets.
In addition, some land was to be used for highways, some was to go for projects to help the island's homeless, and part was set aside for park land and recreational use -- there was a lot of talk for a while about a botanical gardens that would been a great attraction for visitors as well as residents.
Instead of keeping these parcels and benefiting the government and the entire community, elected officials chose to benefit themselves, as well as a few families. These officials threw away economic opportunity, weakened the government's financial position, and erased the chance for projects that would have been of use to thousands upon thousands of residents and visitors.
This community needs elected officials who will put the good of the many above the wants of the few, and far above their own personal interest in getting re-elected.
Originally published December 3,