NAPLES, Italy — The U.S. Navy will turn over the Mineo housing complex for troops stationed in Sigonella, Sicily, on March 31, when the current $8.5 million annual lease expires. The last of the military families living in the 404-unit complex left in December.

The Navy announced two years ago its intentions to relinquish the housing area as part of a reconfiguration of assets to address the reduction in Italy-based military personnel.

Sigonella has two government housing complexes. Mineo and Marinai had some “excess” housing, resulting in a policy change in November in which the base commander placed a moratorium on new residents at Mineo. The policy change filled the 526 units at Marinai, near Naval Air Station II. The complex has an occupancy rate of 95 percent and houses about 2,000 members and their families.

The future of the Mineo complex is uncertain. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, visited this week, expressing interest in using the complex to house thousands of Tunisian refugees flooding into the southern Italian island.

As of Friday, the Navy had received no official request from the Italian government nor the property owners, Pizzarotti & Co., to turn over the Mineo housing complex before the March 31 lease expiration date, said Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a regional Navy spokesman.

“The U.S. Navy is committed to cooperating with our Italian hosts however we can while fulfilling our contractual obligations to the lessor,” he said.

Repeat attempts for comment from the Interior Ministry and Pizzarotti & Co. went unanswered.

Though Mineo has been vacated, Navy police will continue to guard the gated complex until the lease expires. The Navy incurred minimal costs associated with vacating the complex, mostly associated with moving equipment or supplies or shutting down services, Hawkins said. He could not provide a dollar figure.

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