Under Secretary of the Army Helps Cut Ribbon, Marne Point Open for Business at Fort Stewart
December 18, 2008
<b> FORT STEWART, GA </b> -- Fort Stewart's Unaccompanied Personnel Housing project called Marne Point was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dec. 16. On hand for the ceremony was the Under Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Nelson M. Ford. Also present were installation and 3rd Infantry Division Commander, Major General Tony Cucolo and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews; U.S. Army
Garrison Commander, Col. Todd Buchs; Deputy Garrison Commander, Mike Biering; Hinesville Mayor James Thomas, and former Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Durr.
Ford said this was his first trip to Fort Stewart, but he was impressed with the installation, especially the progress of the UPH project, which is one of five pilot projects initiated by the Department of the Army. When Marne Point is complete in 2010, the complex will include 334 apartments for single Soldiers, staff sergeant through captain.
"We not only need to secure victories on the battlefield," Ford told the distinguished guests attending the ribbon-cutting. "We also need to secure our Soldiers' need to rest and recuperate."
Until UPH projects began, the Army's focus has been on improving married Soldiers' on-post housing. Marne Point is the first on-post apartment community developed by Balfour Beatty Communities who have partnered with Niles Bolton Associates, an architecture and engineering firm, as well as Balfour Beatty Construction.
Each of the units has private bedrooms and baths, full kitchens, living rooms and ceiling fans with 9-foot ceilings. Each unit has a private entrance, and includes a walk-in closet, washer and dryer and kitchen appliances. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Waltz, recently assigned to 2nd BCT, just moved into his new apartment last Friday. He and his roommate, Brutus, an 8-month old, 136-pound Great Dane puppy, really enjoy their new apartment. Waltz said they didn't have anything like Marne Point at his last assignment, Fort Sill, Okla.
Staff Sgt. Phil Latham, who recently redeployed with the 4th BCT, was among the dignitaries selected to cut the ribbon. He said he appreciated being able to sign up for his apartment while still in Iraq. By giving his mom a power of attorney, she was able to sign for his apartment for him, which allowed him to get off the plane and go home to his new apartment.
In addition to single Soldier housing for senior enlisted and junior officers, the Army is also working on improving barracks life for junior enlisted Soldiers through the First Sergeants Barracks Initiative, which will allow for civilian management of barracks, allowing commanders and first sergeants more time to focus on their primary mission.
During a news conference after the ribbon-cutting, Ford and Cucolo responded to questions about how UPH and other housing projects are affecting morale and retention. Ford was asked if projects like Marne Point were a "step forward."
"This is a tremendous step forward. We're building [Residential Communities Initiatives] around the country," Ford responded but refuted any suggestion the housing projects were necessary to maintain an all-volunteer Army. "The Army attracts people who like working as a part of a team. They're all volunteers. They do the work they like to do. Their pay is competitive with 90 percentile [of their civilian counterparts]. We're not having any trouble retaining people, and we're not having any trouble recruiting people."
Army construction projects to improve housing for single and married Soldiers are not a means to attract or keep good Soldiers, said Ford. He emphasized enlistment and reenlistment quotas are being met. The improved housing is commensurate with the service of today's Soldiers and the sacrifices of their Families.
Marne Point includes a heated pool, clubhouse, full basketball court and car wash station. The total cost for the complex is $32.2 million.