Marines shelter site upsets Waimanalo residents - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Marines shelter site upsets Waimanalo residents

WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Soon, when U.S. Marines stage war games at their training site on Bellows Air Force Station, role players who act as the enemy will live on a one-acre site at the Marine Corps Role Player Forward Operating Base.

"The role players are an integral part of the immersion trainer here, so they're doing twelve hour shifts. Having them on site makes them available to do those long shifts," said Lt. Diann Olson, spokesperson for Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Workers are constructing a covered pavilion, and putting a shower trailer and sleeping bays into place to accommodate up to 83 role players. They will live there ten to fifteen days at a time several times a year.

Waimanalo Neighborhood Board chairman Wilson Kekoa Ho said the Marines never said this was coming when they built the training site.

"One of the provisions was no population impact, meaning no bussing in of people, and secondly, no one would live on the property," he said.

Olson said the housing site will reduce traffic to and from Bellows, and save up to $500,000 a year in transportation and lodging costs.

"Typically in the past the role players were staying out in Waikiki. So this is saving the taxpayer money," she said.

"Why couldn't they have housed them on base, or another base, or military housing?" Ho said.

Olson said there isn't enough space on base.

The Corps calls the role player site "bare bones" and "temporary."

"You can actually see that these are module units," Olson said. "They are something that we bring in and we can take out."

She said eight Waimanalo community groups were alerted to the plan last year.  But Ho said there was no give and take with Waimanalo residents and that's unacceptable.

"We want to be a partner in the community and not a step stone. It's important for us," he said.

The role player housing site will be ready in August.

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