Busy Installation Enters New Era
January 18, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Reshaping Redstone Arsenal is a continuing project
Since 2005, the Garrison has focused much of its efforts on preparing and welcoming new tenants as ordered by the last round of Base Realignment and Closure recommendations -- namely, the move of the Army Materiel Command and the AMC Band, the Security Assistance Command, Missile Defense Agency headquarters, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade and the newly created Redstone Test Center. With those new residents came some other tenants to complete the neighborhood, including the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion, Army Contracting Command, Expeditionary Contracting Command and a few non-military organizations, and upgrades to various on-post facilities.
Now, from the looks of things, it may seem Redstone Arsenal is finished with this major round of growth. Take another look, and future growth can be seen just simmering under the surface.
"2011 was an extremely busy year for Redstone Arsenal, as were the previous years," Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton said.
"We are now in the final stages of completing the BRAC-mandated tasks with getting new tenants onto the installation. The BRAC law included very specific things that needed to be accomplished. The tasks involved very, very challenging things to do that required a large level of effort by the Garrison and its tenants."
But the tasks haven't ended.
Instead, the Garrison is working to solidify tenant relationships both on post and in the community, and move into the future with growth that further supports those tenants, and positions Redstone for the future facility and capability needs of the Army.
"These new tenants have been through a busy time of having to move their operations and their employees while at the same time continuing their mission," Hamilton said.
"We continue to support them and to execute our mission by providing facilities, and working in the community for things like better schools to create a good quality of life for them. BRAC law gives us a very prescribed 'to do' list that has to be accomplished. But there are second and third order effects that you identify as you go through the process that the work force also has to accomplish."
While the direct impact changed Army organizations, it also affected employees and their families. To ensure that a smooth transition at Redstone continues, the Garrison works to integrate those organizations, employees and families into the community.
"It takes time for individuals to get to know the community they've settled in," Hamilton said. "It takes time for organizations to find where they fit in a community. Some of those things will define 2012 for us. There is still work to be done to take care of these organizations. Those second and third order effects will continue for a while as we continue to reshape Redstone Arsenal."
BRAC continues to be an influence on the Arsenal transformation. The arrival of new organizations combined with the move of the 59th Ordnance Brigade/Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School to Fort Lee, Va., has changed the populations that congregate on the Arsenal and that use its facilities.
"We have a different set of employees and mission sets, and the impact on the community is profound," Hamilton said. "The Garrison is very sensitive to those changes. The services we provide to a large extent are particularly defined by the demands of the work force on the installation.
"The nature of our work changed pre-BRAC and post-BRAC, and we will continue to transform our capabilities and resources to meet that demand."
That transformation will also be impacted by projected budget constraints that will be determined by Congress, President Barack Obama and the Department of Defense.
"We are going to have to be very conservative with our expenditures," Hamilton said. "We will have to use our money for those things that are truly necessary and defined for 2012. We will look hard at available resources and use them for our top priorities. We are having to deal with a transition to a more constrained fiscal environment."
But that doesn't mean that construction projects will come to a close on Redstone. Rather, those projects that affect tenants and the future of the Arsenal are still very much moving forward.
"We will continue to see a fair amount of construction on post," Hamilton said. "It will be not so much new buildings, though. The vast majority of construction will be the renovation of existing buildings."
The year will find construction started on renovating several older buildings that once housed the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School near Gate 10.
"Buildings vacated that are very suitable for other missions if renovated will be renovated for organizations that need facilities on post," Hamilton said. "These buildings will be reutilized and repurposed due to need, and will be ready for occupants in 2013."
The renovated Military Personnel Office, now under construction at the corner of Hercules and Roadrunner, will house administrative support services related to personnel, finance, housing, and out-processing and in-processing. Likewise, plans for renovating the dining facility on Aerobee Road near Gate 10, which once fed hundreds of student Soldiers, are now being finalized so that it will have a new purpose in housing family services beginning in 2013.
"We need to be more operationally efficient in taking care of families, Soldiers and employees. These services have been scattered among many different buildings and that's inefficient. It is more efficient and effective if they are at one single consolidated location. We want multiple, different services in one location," Hamilton said.
Other buildings deemed beyond their useful life will be torn down to make room for future Arsenal growth.
"There are a number of buildings around the installation that are extremely old. They will be torn down and as we evaluate what facility needs are for the installation the land will be available for construction in the future," the colonel said.
While installation needs will redefine usage for existing buildings on the eastern end of the Arsenal near Gate 10, new commercial facilities developed at the Redstone Gateway on the western end of the Arsenal near Gate 9 will give both Department of Defense and defense contractors options for future growth.
Other new building growth, which will occur in the next couple years, includes a shoppette on Martin Road near Mills Road that will include a gas station, food court and possibly retail and banking facilities.
In the way of road construction, the big news is the ongoing construction involving Gate 7 and the western end of Martin Road. Work on Gate 7 should be completed in the next few months. Preparation for widening Martin Road west is ongoing with utility lines now being moved. That project should be completed in 2013.
Also of top priority for road construction are the changes on Redstone Road north in relation to the further development of Redstone Gateway. In particular, work will be completed in 2012 that will move access to Goss Road further south along Rideout Road. Plans also call for widening Rideout Road and moving Gate 9 and the Visitors Center further south.
But Hamilton said the real issues with Rideout Road are outside the gate.
"We are working very, very closely with the state and city on work that can be done to improve movement on and off Redstone. The challenges are not exclusively on the installation," Hamilton said. "On post, Rideout Road has to be widened, particularly with the northbound lanes."
Garrison plans, though, don't only focus on building, road construction and infrastructure support. Quality of life services are yet another Garrison priority. Most of those services fall into the area of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, which has an ongoing renovation program that has provided upgrades for the Bowling Center, Heiser Hall and Outdoor Recreation over the past few years.
In 2011, the Officers and Civilians Club underwent a major renovation that closed the club for several months. In late 2011 it reopened and now, with the beginning of 2012, it enters a new era with a club system that renames the Officers and Civilians Club to The Summit and incorporates entertainment, food and catering services at The Overlook, the Rustic Lodge (renamed The Cliffs when it reopens), and the Firehouse Pub.
"The rebranding that we are doing better integrates these locations so that they offer a whole system of places to meet and to host events from small gatherings to large conferences," Hamilton said.
"The club system manages these multiple facilities to provide food services and facilities for every event. Each location has its own look and feel. But they are pulled together under one management umbrella."
As the installation moves into 2012, Hamilton said the Garrison and its staff are the hub for installation plans, and it has a particular impact on the road, building and utility network that makes up the Arsenal.
"Our staff is working on future plans and how those plans will impact our tenants and our communities. We have to have a picture of the requirements, and then we can get a picture of the problem and the solution," he said. "Our assessments of major projects are not something that we can do in a vacuum. We are the hub that plans the solution and then manages it."
Hamilton views that staff as dedicated to the future of Redstone Arsenal.
"My expectation of the Garrison work force is one of a high level of professionalism that is striving every single day to make Redstone Arsenal better," he said. "They work to identify what organizations on Redstone Arsenal need and then they do everything in their power to deliver those services in a very efficient and effective way."
Even with tight resources, Hamilton is optimistic the Garrison can continue a high level of support to current and future Arsenal tenants.
"Clearly, there are constraints on the amount of things we are able to do and the extent that we do them," he said. "But the reality is we can accomplish those things most critical to Arsenal organizations and we can accomplish them to the standards expected by those tenants so that everyone has the resources they need to accomplish the mission."