Neighborhood center opens
February 2, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 2, 2012) -- Soldiers, Families and community leaders gathered Jan. 27 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of the Munson Heights Neighborhood Center's grand opening on Fort Rucker.
"We are extremely excited," said Heath Burleson, program director, Picerne Military Housing. "We commonly refer to our neighborhood centers as the heart and soul of each neighborhood and, at the end of the day, they truly are."
The Munson Heights Neighborhood Center is the third and final neighborhood center to be built at Fort Rucker. Inside the 7,200-square-foot facility are a workout room, media room, computer lab, and a meeting space with a fully furnished kitchen. Located behind the center is a 25-meter, six-lane swimming pool with about 14,000 square feet of deck space.
There are two other neighborhood centers on post located in the Allen Heights and Bowden Terrace neighborhoods. The centers, which all house similar amenities, serve as a place for Families to gather and call home, according to Burleson.
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, was on hand to help open the center and, during his remarks, expressed gratitude for what the Picerne Military Housing team has done at Fort Rucker.
"[The Picerne team] tells us all the time why they are lucky to have us. We are lucky. Not only to have this center but to have these people here with us," said Crutchfield.
"I don't know of any other post comparable to the size of Fort Rucker that has three beautiful, brand-new community centers," he said.
"And if they do, I can tell you they don't have pools. They don't have Wi-Fi. They don't have a kitchen. They don't have a little area for our babies to stay in comfortably and safely while we work out. Many of them are much smaller than this. I've been there. We're the lucky ones," said Crutchfield.
Burleson then presented Crutchfield with a plaque intended for the commanding generals' quarters. The plaque, a tradition at Fort Rucker, represents each of the Families who have resided in that home.
The site of the Munson Heights Neighborhood Center was previously the site of the commanding generals' home, first occupied by Gen. Bogardus Cairns in February 1958, according to Burleson. After Cairns, 23 commanding generals and their Families lived in that home until it was demolished a few years ago.
CW4 Thomas Miller, his wife, Lori, and their children, Aaron, Fiona and Katherine, then cut the ribbon, officially opening the Munson Heights Neighborhood Center.
Lori said the Family recently celebrated their daughters' first birthday at one of the other neighborhood centers on post.
"It was incredible! The building is so nice, it's almost too nice to have kids running around having cake and ice cream all over them," she said.
Having the neighborhood center nearby is wonderful, she said.
"Especially during the summer months when it's incredibly hot here in Alabama, having the pool right down the street from us will be great," Lori said.
Miller said the center was under construction when they arrived at Fort Rucker, and that it's nice to see it all come together.
"We're very pleased with the on-post housing here at Fort Rucker," he said. "We're just down the street so we'll be able to walk to the pool. And there's a great playground out back, too."
In addition to the three neighborhood centers, Picerne Military Housing has constructed almost 700 new homes on post since assuming operations in April 2006.
There are 96 new homes scheduled to be built in the Munson Heights and Bowden Terrace neighborhoods in 2012.