FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Temporary inconveniences will turn into long-term benefits at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities on Fort Lewis.

A series of projects to renovate, upgrade and improve those facilities might have disrupted customers' schedules somewhat in recent months, but the result will be better FMWR offerings on post for everyone.

Progress is especially evident at busy McVeigh Sports and Fitness Center. Already home to a world-class strength-training area, the rest of the facility will get a $2.5-million facelift beginning this week with completion expected next summer.

"I can't imagine that there's any better strength-training area in the Army," said Rick Randall, director of the FMWR Community Recreation Division.

Soldiers Field House, originally designed as a home for basketball and racquetball, will be renovated to accommodate the growing emphasis on strength and cardiovascular training.

"We're creating (strength and cardio) space within the facility," Randall said.

The $1.7-million renovation of Soldiers, slated to begin in mid December, will include an upgrade of the pool that should take two to three months.

"It's not going to be a long, draw-out process," Randall said. "We're going to be adding family changing rooms with showers."

All three pools on post - Soldiers, Keeler and McVeigh's Kimbro - will have unblockable drain covers installed by Dec. 19 to bring them into compliance with the recent Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act. All pools nationwide must install the drains to protect against accidental drownings.

"They're going to be much safer now with these unblockable drain covers," said Randall of the pools.

The pools will be drained so that the covers can be installed. After the pools are refilled and reheated, chemical levels will be adjusted.

"It's a 5- to 6-day process," said Randall, assuring that during that period, "we will always have a pool open."

Randall noted that improvements to fitness centers postwide always include "brand-new, top-of-the-line equipment." He added that in the past year, $1.5 million of fitness equipment has been installed.

Carey Theater has been undergoing renovations that include new seats and floors and upgraded restrooms.

"It should be open again in April," said Denis Senftner, NAF resource manager.

Meanwhile, Senftner pointed out, local theaters are offering reduced fees for military ID cardholders through Fort Lewis Information, Tickets and Tours (967-3085). He said that most off-post movie theaters routinely offer 20 percent discounts to military ID cardholders.

The $3-million renovation of Bowl Arena Lanes is moving toward completion by early February. Along with a new restaurant, lounge, pro shop and gaming room, the automated technology should make it what Senftner called "the most technologically advanced" bowling center in the Pacific Northwest.

"It should be a lot of fun," Senftner said.

Nelson Recreation Center is undergoing a $3.5-million upgrade of its interior.

"The entire facility will be renovated," Randall said. "It's going to be great."

Idle for most of the past several years, Memorial Stadium will receive a $3.2-million transformation. Randall said the outdoor venue will be used for softball, concerts, July 4th celebrations and change-of-command ceremonies.

Other improvements include 150 new recreational vehicle spaces, expansion of the Nelson Landing Marina, three new cabins near the Northwest Adventure Center, a new 400-meter outdoor track at Cowan Stadium, and three new child care facilities. Scheduled for next spring are renovations at Russell Landing Cafe and the Summit Skating Arena.

The numerous improvements help to make Fort Lewis the post of choice for Soldiers and their families.

Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Mon December 8th, 2008 at 14:30