As an initial step in the planning process for the relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam, the office overseeing the move brought together representatives from 29 environmental regulatory agencies for a two-day partnering session in Guam on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s to help set up an ‘over-the-shoulder’ review process,” said retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice, the head of the Joint Guam Program Office. “So when we do roll it out and give them the plan, they have been involved in the process all along.”

An important goal of the partnering sessions was to establish lines of communication and a sense of teamwork, said Brian Bienn, an industrial psychologist from Atlanta brought in to facilitate the meetings.

“It’s really the first time that this group was brought together,” he said. “[The group] is being asked to collaborate to communicate more effectively, to figure out how to coordinate more efficiently in order to accomplish this huge project.”

While all agreed that the participants were receptive to the partnering, one challenge will be to determine each agency’s role in the $10 billion project, which is slated for completion by 2014.

“If I’m part of this team now, how do I work as part of this larger group?” Bienn said, explaining the issues. “[how do I] show commitment to them and follow through on those commitments, while also being part of my agency and doing what needs to be done there? Where are the boundaries?”

Agencies represented in the sessions included the Guam Department of Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, the Air Force, U.S. Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Guam Historical Preservation Office and both the U.S. and Guam environmental protection agencies.

Also present at the sessions was Donald Schregardus, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (Environment). The buildup is a top priority for the Navy, he said.

“I want to make sure that we have the right people on board … and that we’re collecting the right information so that when we move forward, when we get permits, when we’re getting decisions made, they provide the best long-term solution for this buildup.”

Asked about other potential problem areas related to the buildup, the JGPO’s Bice noted that his office will be holding an industry forum Aug. 23-24 to address the capacity of the island’s construction industry.

The size of Guam’s labor pool and problems with the island’s commercial seaport are also potential problem areas, he said.

The route of a $1.25 billion highway to connect Andersen Air Force Base with U.S. Naval Base Guam has not yet been planned since the requirements for the road will depend on the final master plan, Bice said.

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