USACE, Ansbach turn MWR funds into new auto skills center
November 14, 2011
ANSBACH, Germany -- Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District and U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach pulled out their shovels to turn dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 4 marking the beginning of construction on an auto skills center in the Urlas Housing Area.
The $6 million building and supporting facilities will provide the military community with nine maintenance bays, an automatic car wash building and even a dog wash, said Col. Kelly J. Lawler, USAG Ansbach commander.
"Around Europe, there are many countries that are not doing groundbreakings," he said. "They're doing things like taping up boxes and boarding up windows, so we need to be very proud and positive in our outlook and with our community."
A vehicle storage area, salvage yard and other storage areas are also included in the plans, providing the Ansbach and Illesheim communities with a state-of-the-art facility to service their vehicles, said Col. D. Peter Helmlinger, USACE Europe District commander.
"You'll have a fantastic facility here with the state-of-the-art auto crafts shop," he said. "This project is special to me. I used to be one of those shade-tree mechanics who spent a lot of time there when I drove a 1963 Chevy Corvair and ended up pushing it more than I drove it … until I finally discovered the auto crafts shop. It's been invaluable to me ever since."
The current auto skills center is housed in a 1950s-era motor pool and not accustomed to accommodating some of the bigger U.S. vehicles, said Gary Dyson, Auto Skills Center manager. An auto salvage yard is located in a separate area on Katterbach Kaserne.
"It's a great thing that we're doing this because the facilities we have, especially the older ones, are not really accustomed to some of the bigger American vehicles," he said. "The facilities we are working in now are old. We have holes in the walls. It was an old building so it really wasn't worth investing in."
The expansion in space will also allow the center to expand its hours of operation, Dyson said.
"Right now we're only open five days a week, but with the new facility and the 24-hour car wash and dog wash and strip yard available, we'll be open seven days a week so you can come get your car serviced anytime," he said.
Unlike military construction projects, the dollars being used to fund this project are non-appropriated -- funds raised through Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs that are given back to the community through quality-of-life upgrades.
"You can see we put that price tag on [the construction sign] -- $6 million," Lawler said. "I asked for that to be put on there so that our Soldiers know how much money is being spent on this project -- that their money from MWR is going to build this. They need to know that, especially in today's day and age of a global economic change."
In addition to being economically friendly, the facility is also designed to be environmentally friendly. An oil-water separating system, sealed and leak-proof floors and waste oil pumps will keep chemicals out of the soil, and high windows will allow natural light to be utilized.
When we did this, we took all things into consideration environmental and saving energy," Lawler said. "Talk about green -- this is green."
Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2012 and with the partnership between USACE, USAG Ansbach, the Directorate of Public Works, FMWR, the bauamt Nurnberg and construction contractor Mikan, the community will be pleased when the center's doors open, Helmlinger said.
"It's great to see everyone and be part of this strong partnership," he said. "We're glad to add to the Urlas community. We recently completed the new state-of-the-art housing area and we're going to continue to make this a first-class facility."
"It's not easy to get where we are today because there's a lot of planning, a lot of coordination, a lot of regulations and a lot of environmental," Lawler added. "There are many people that play in enabling us to throw this dirt today. I would like to thank that entire team."