By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau
WAIANAE The Army has canceled the public meeting it scheduled for Wednesday in Waianae to hear testimony on plans to resume training in Makua Valley and will hold two meetings before the end of the month.
Army officials now will meet with the community next Saturday and Jan. 27.
Next Saturdays meeting is a site tour and presentation at 10 a.m. at the Makua Military Reservation, where Army officials will explain proposed training and safety measures to protect environmental and cultural resources in the valley.
The time and place for the Jan. 27 meeting has not been set, but the forum will allow the public to comment on the Armys Supplemental Environmental Assessment and the Finding of No Significant Impact. At a public meeting last month residents were not allowed to comment after a presentation on the assessment, and many walked away from the meeting angry.
The deadline for public comment on the document has been extended from Jan. 22 to Jan. 30.
"Weve been saying we need to conduct combined-arms live-fire training. But from some of the comments and inquiries weve gotten, its clear that a good number of those engaged in the issue dont understand what training entails," said Maj. Gen. James M. Dubik, commanding general, 25th Infantry Divisions (Light) and U.S. Army, Hawaii.
"We think, therefore, to have a genuine discourse, its critical to show the community how we can conduct our training, thus meeting our two obligations to protect the environment and to maintain a trained and ready force."
The Army wants live-ammunition exercises, which were suspended in September 1998, to resume in Makua as early as March.
Members of the Leeward Coast community are opposed to the plan and disagree with the Armys view that training can be done without damaging cultural artifacts or the environment. They have sued in federal court to prevent further training.
Waianae resident William Aila Jr. said yesterday he is unhappy with the rescheduling.
"We had the Waianae community ready to come in and give them testimony and a piece of our minds about their lack of cultural awareness and to point out the problems with their Finding of No Significant Impact, and now we have to go back and tell everybody not to show up on the 17th," Aila said. "Now we have to tell them it is on another day, but we cant even say what time or where."
Aila said the site tour is purely a public relations move and has nothing to do with the environmental assessment. "It doesnt answer any of the environmental or biological questions," Aila said. "It will show where they propose to shoot."
Capt. Cynthia Teramae said the time and location of the Jan. 27 meeting has not been set because the Army is looking for an available place in Waianae with enough room and parking for the expected crowd.
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