Speaker: Public hearings on crown lands bill for Guam hospital yield scarce information
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Testimonies provided by administration officials on a bill that eyes crown lands for a new hospital raised more questions than provided answers, according to Speaker Therese Terlaje.
Terlaje said last week's public hearings on Bill 184-37 only yielded rehashed information from previous legislative proceedings.
Bill 184-37, which was proposed Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, seeks to authorize the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission to negotiate with the governor for the sale or lease of crown lands known as "Eda Agaga” near Eagles Field and the Next Generation Weather Radar facility, which is currently slated to be a missile defense and military housing site, located off Route 15 in Mangilao extending back to the former Navy Golf Course in Barrigada.
Bill 184-37 would authorize the price of 61-102 acres from the Land Bank to be negotiated between the governor and GALC.
Terlaje expressed skepticism over the GALC director's claim that the site was ideal for a hospital, given his admission in his testimony that no studies were produced by Matrix or provided to the legislature for this property.
“On passage of Bill 184, the legislature would abdicate its authority to review or limit the terms of the sale or lease on behalf of the people of Guam and eliminate any further review of commitments binding the people of Guam on receipt of potential federal funding,” Terlaje said.
“The specific sale terms, including the price and funding mechanism, remain unknown although a contractor has been hired to appraise the property,” she added.
The GALC director revealed that the property's appraisal was funded by the governor, who will negotiate the sale price with GALC should the bill pass.
The Committee on Health, Land Justice and Culture, chaired by Terlaje, will hold another public hearing on Bill 184-37 on Nov. 16 in addition to the hearing convened on Nov. 1 and 3.
The governor's office expressed disappointment in the speaker's response to the administration's endorsement of the bill.
“Unfortunately, Speaker Terlaje’s message seems clear: Despite hours of testimony by veterans, village mayors, and island residents in support of Bill 184-37, none of it mattered and nearly all of it was ignored simply because it did not conform to her mistaken understanding of the facts," reads a statement from Adelup.
Notwithstanding her prior public support for building this complex on crown lands, the governor's office said, the speaker "blatantly ignored resounding support at the public hearing for a medical complex site large enough to meet Guam’s growing needs—a site closer to southern residents that maintains facilities for island veterans. "
In response to Terlaje's questions about construction costs, administration officials said such information is dependent on site selection.
"No one can provide clear and convincing details on a construction project without knowing where it will be built or how much useful land we will have to build it," the governor's office said.