Thursday, April 01, 2004

PR: End of a training era

On the last day of the U.S. Navy’s military operations on the Roosevelt Roads naval base, several members from Gov. Sila Calderon’s cabinet met with community leaders from Ceiba and Naguabo to mark the beginning of the transition process that they expect will yield economic benefits to the eastern part of the island and the rest of Puerto Rico.
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Although the decision as to which federal agency would stay at Roosevelt Roads was supposed to be made by the end of March, Segarra said that federal officials had told him on Tuesday that the decision should be announced in less than a week.

“It is very probable that the agencies that have already been mentioned—Homeland Security Department, U.S. Customs, and the U.S. Army Reserve—have a guaranteed space at Roosevelt Roads,” Segarra said on Wednesday during a press conference in Ceiba.
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“I think these three agencies could make an immediate contribution to the area’s economy,” Segarra added.

Segarra also said that, because it still owns the land, the Navy is responsible for decontaminating the over 8,000 acres that make up the base.

“We don’t expect any problem with that part of the process. However, it is too early to tell how much it will cost,” said Department of Natural & Environmental Resources Secretary Luis E. Rodriguez, who was also present at the press conference.
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Some of the draft’s proposals include preserving more than 3,000 acres of wetlands and developing 1,250 acres for ecotourism. The local government is also interested in obtaining rights for Puerto Rico residents to use the water and power facilities inside the base.

The local Health Department has also requested that authorities transfer control of the naval-base hospital so it can set up a rehabilitation center for stroke patients....

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