CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea --Army officials broke ground on a $22.5 million project to construct the Camp Humphreys Conference and Dining Center here, May 16.

"This building will be a centerpiece for people to gather and will provide us a capability to meet the needs of our growing community," said Col. Joseph P. Moore, United States Army Garrison Humphreys commander. "This is something we'll need here as Camp Humphreys grows into one of the primary hubs of U.S. Forces in Asia."

The project, slated for completion in mid-July 2014, will include a large Conference Center and banquet hall, a name-brand restaurant, an amphitheater, a covered deck, a game room, outdoor decks and an atrium. Moore noted that the combined banquet hall-conference center will have its own kitchen facility -- providing U.S. Forces in Korea a place to hold military balls, large meetings and conferences.

The Conference and Dining facility has been on the drawing board for more than 10 years. It is the largest Non-Appropriated Fund construction project in the Army and will be paid for through Soldier-generated dollars.

Home to the 2nd Infantry Division's combat aviation brigade and the Army's most active overseas airfield, the number of Soldiers stationed at Camp Humphreys is expected to grow in the coming years by 238 percent, from 6,670 to 22,497, and the number of families is on track to grow by 1,270 percent.

As part of its transformation, U.S. Forces Korea will relocate from areas in and north of Seoul, to two enduring hubs south of the Han River; the northwest/Pyeongtaek hub, consisting mainly of USAG-Humphreys and Osan Air Base; and the southeast /Daegu hub, comprised mainly of USAG Daegu and Chinhae Naval Base.

Moore talked about planning a project of this size and expressed his appreciation for the support IMCOM leaders provided throughout the process.

"The construction is actually the easy part, compared to all of the planning and programming required to get us where we are today," Moore said. "We wouldn't be here today, were it not for the vital support we received from the leadership at Installation Management Command."

Moore will be retiring from the Army next month, but said he made it a personal goal to break ground on the center before he departed.

USAG Humphreys Deputy Command Mark Cox also participated in the ceremony and commented on the importance of preparing for the planned influx of Soldiers, civilians and family members in the coming years.

"As Humphreys expands, so too will our need for additional conference, entertainment and dining facilities," Cox said. "The garrison is committed to providing our community the services and support they need while stationed here."

Ceremony narrator Sean McManus noted the wide impact the project will have.

"This facility will provide dozens of jobs to our Korean partners and provide a facility second-to-none for our Soldiers, Family members, and both American and Korean civilian employees," he said. "This is another example of our commitment to the long-term friendship between the U.S. and people of South Korea.

Don Claycomb, Humphreys Director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, echoed Moore's sentiments about the long-term impact of the new facility.

"Camp Humphreys will be growing by leaps and bounds over the next few years, and breaking ground on this new facility now means that we will be ready to meet many of their needs when they arrive. A major portion of the planning process was looking at the future, identifying perceived needs and building a facility that will meet those needs. With the amount of time and money involved between today's ground-breaking and the actual start of operations, we wanted to get it right the first time."

Claycomb praised the work of the entire Community in helping move the Conference and Dining Center from paper to the actual start of construction.

"This didn't just happen," he said. "The Command, Director of Public Works and, of course, our FMWR team headed by Business Operations Division Chief Mike Ross spent countless hours in developing the plan. Now it's up to the Seoyong Construction Co. to turn the vision into reality."

Seoyong is one of Korea's leading construction firms and has built many structures and facilities throughout the Korean peninsula, including several World Cup Stadiums major bridges and convention facilities.

"I think we're in good hands with Seoyong," Claycomb said, "and, like everyone else, I will be excited to watch the dream grow into reality over the next two years."

Page last updated Thu May 17th, 2012 at 00:00