New home construction continues on post
June 13, 2009
- Housing officials need residents' feedback
- The 10-year, $612 million development plan includs the demolition and renovating of 2,110 sets of quarters, building 2,377 new homes.
- Although the Residential Communities Initiative is only in its fourth year, more than 1,000 new homes have been built on Fort Benning.
Although the Residential Communities Initiative is only in its fourth year, more than 1,000 new homes have been built on Fort Benning and nearly 40 new homes in Dahlonega, Ga.
"We're pretty far down the road," said COL(R) Keith Lovejoy, Fort Benning's housing director who retired from the Army last summer after 27 years of service.
The initial development plan, which is a 10-year, $612 million project, included the demolition of 2,110 sets of quarters, building 2,377 new homes and renovating more than 1,500 historic and non-historic homes on post and at Camp Merrill, home to the 5th Ranger Training Battalion in Dahlonega.
For example, McGraw Village features mostly single-family homes with garages for NCOs and their families, said Lon Sperry, investment manager with Pinnacle,
the company overseeing housing management, replacing McGraw Manor's eight-plexes and street parking. Patton Village, across from the entrance to Sand Hill's training brigades, has more than 550 homes. Before RCI, the area was forest. Construction of the Upatoi housing area is currently under way, while the renovation plan for the Indianhead housing area will be approved this fall. The Custer Village Community Center is scheduled to break ground June 22, and the Indianhead Community Center is still in the planning process. The community centers, with playgrounds and pools, are open to anyone living on post, regardless of housing area, Lovejoy said.
Housing is determined by rank and family size, Sperry said. The housing areas are set aside for certain ranks, such as Custer Village for privates and specialists, Patton Village for NCOs and Perkins Village for junior officers.
As Fort Benning continues through this initial 10-year plan, Lovejoy said, it's important for residents to look long term.
"Even though you may not be in a new house, your BAH goes toward the entire installation project and you're benefiting the overall program," he said. "The entire Army is going through this process and chances are good that even though you're not in a new house on this installation, when you go to another installation you will be afforded the opportunity for a new or renovated set of quarters."
And it's critical residents provide feedback as housing continues to change, said the former garrison commander who participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for McGraw Village's community center two years ago.
"This is one area I really have a lot of passion about," he said. "It's important how families are treated, and I think housing is a very personal issue. I want to do the best I can to take care of Army Families and Soldiers, and I know our partners at Clark/Pinnacle as well are dedicated to making the most positive changes given the available resources for everybody involved. It doesn't happen overnight, but if residents provide both positive and negative feedback, courses of action and priorities can be tweaked along the way. If no feedback is received, plans that have developed will continue along as scheduled."
Residents have multiple ways to let Fort Benning officials know what they think.
One of the best venues for submitting feedback is townhall meetings, Lovejoy said.
"They're not just for housing specific issues but for everything happening on the installation, and it's the residents' chance to act directly with all the garrison leadership ... MWR, the military police, emergency services, the commissary, the PX. There's that chance for one-on-one interaction to answer specific questions geared toward their own circumstances," he said.
Surveys are another important tool, Lovejoy said. The results of the annual housing survey, mailed to residents in May, goes directly to the chain of command.
Lovejoy encourages residents to submit customer feedback on the Interactive Customer Evaluation system. Located in various public places around post, from the commissary to the bowling alley, ICE lets consumers detail their experiences with different post services.
"If you feel strongly that none of these venues has worked to resolve your individual issue, try the garrison hotline at 706-545-9837," Lovejoy said. "This has been in place for a couple years and a lot of people don't know about it, but that line goes directly to a phone that is answered in the garrison commander and garrison command sergeant major's office."
As officials hear about concerns, they work to remedy them as quickly and efficiently as possible, Lovejoy said. For example, they are working to address the limited availability of storage space in housing, which they heard about through townhall meetings, ICE and the survey.
To submit a concern or thanks through ICE, log on to http://ice.disa.mil. Residents who have not received the annual housing survey should pick one up at the housing office in Building 280 or at the community welcome center on Lumpkin Road. The deadline to turn in the survey is June 30. To find out when the next town hall meeting is look for information marquees and read The Bayonet.