Ex-U.S. pilot, environmentalists call for military hostel preservation
Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) A former U.S. Air Force pilot and local environmentalists on Monday called on Taichung City government to reverse its recent decision to raze an abandoned former U.S. military hostel to make way for a modern building housing local NGO groups.
James Patrick Dwyer and a group of environmentalists said the compound located at Meicun Road in Taichung's West District was built in 1962 and served as the Foreign Affairs Services Department Hostel used by the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) stationed in the country.
With the withdrawal of MAAG after the U.S. ended official diplomatic ties in 1979, the compound was taken over by Taiwan's military which later commissioned a private company to turn it into a privately-run guesthouse.
The guesthouse closed its doors in 2006 and the building has been abandoned ever since.
The environmentalists have been calling on the city government to list the compound as a cultural heritage site and preserve the old trees in the compound. However, their proposal was rejected at a Sept. 19 meeting, they said.
Staging a demonstration in front of the compound, 73-year-old Dwyer, who was stationed at Taichung Air Base from 1971 to 1973 and married a Taiwanese woman, said he would love to see the compound preserved as it embodies an important part of Taiwan-U.S. history and is a testimony to bilateral friendship.
Hsu Hsin-hsin (許心欣), a member of the Homemakers United Foundation, echoed Dwyer's appeal during the event.
The protesters also called for the trees in the compound not to be chopped down.
In response, Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau said in a press release that a review committee has decided not to list the compound as cultural heritage site.
However, the committee did recognize the historical significance of the compound, and will do its best to ensure most of the trees and part of the original building are preserved, but the plan to revamp the compound to house local NGOs and volunteers will still go ahead.
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