MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Guam lawmakers have again raised concerns over hospital capacity, schools and land expansion as the United States nears completion of its plans for a military build-up there.

Two Guam senators and the lieutenant governor sent separate letters to Department of Defense officials this month saying that schools and the island’s only hospital must be upgraded and the military should avoid expanding on scarce land.

The U.S. Navy is now weighing such environmental impacts and is expected to complete plans next month to move an aircraft carrier, missile defense facility and 8,600 Marines and their families to the small island territory.

The population increase — along with tens of thousands of workers also predicted to flood the island around 2014 — will overwhelm existing schools and Guam Memorial Hospital, B.J. Cruz, vice speaker of the Guam senate, wrote in an Aug. 2 letter to Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office.

The hospital is “the true chokepoint for the military build-up” and will need hundreds of new acute-care beds and expanded emergency and intensive care units, wrote Cruz, who was traveling on Monday and unavailable for comment, though his office supplied a copy of the letter.

Adding about 50,000 people to the current island population of 175,000 will drive the number of available hospital beds far below the U.S. national average and strain physicians, Guam Sen. Telo Taitague wrote in a letter to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Dorothy Robyn on Aug. 3.

Taitague wrote the letter because she wants the DOD to include Guam officials in discussions and decisions on hospital needs over the coming weeks and months, said Taitague’s spokesman Mike Bumagat.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Michael Cruz urged Assistant Navy Secretary Jackie Pfannenstiel against building a U.S. military firing range on Pagat, an area of Guam that is a “symbol of our people’s ancient culture, natural environment and inalienable right to determine our future.”

“I strongly urge the DOD to meet its needs within the [land] inventory already possessed by the department,” Cruz wrote in an Aug. 6 letter. He did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Those issues are analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, a federally required study of how the military build-up will affect the island that includes public input, said Maj. Neil Ruggiero, spokesman for the Guam Joint Program Office.

“We are aware of these issues,” he said.

The Navy will decide how to deal with the concerns and go forward with the build-up when it signs a record of decision. That is expected to happen around Sept. 10, Ruggiero said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now