Joint effort: U.S., host nation officials work on issues of mutual concern
August 29, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - Traffic in military community housing areas, planned construction and school partnerships were topics at the German-American Executive Exchange Council Meeting Aug. 15 in the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center.
Wiesbaden Lord Mayor Dr. Helmut Müller and Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, led the meeting which provides a forum for local host nation and garrison leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.
Explaining that the EEC had not met "for quite some time," Wiesbaden's lord mayor said the agenda reflected topics of the day and ongoing transformation. "The advantage of the EEC is that the different representatives are able to sit together at one table -- city mayors, politicians and members of the city administration."
"I have been here for seven months since taking command Jan. 12 and a lot has happened both on a personal level and for the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden," said Carstens.
Pointing out all that the city and state of Hessen have to offer, Carstens said it's important to him that Americans stationed here take advantage of the many opportunities available. "I want to make sure Soldiers, civilians and their families don't only spend their time on Clay Kaserne while in Germany."
The commander also praised the efforts of Wiesbaden citizens to help make members of the Wiesbaden military community feel at home -- helping integrate them into the greater Wiesbaden community. An important aspect of that support, he said is the "incredibly strong partnership between the Military Police and the Polizei of Hessen. Every day our police forces work side by side to help keep our families safe."
Roger Gerber, director of the garrison's Transformation and Stationing Management Office, gave the local host nation administrators an update on transformation projects in the area including the provision of access to new facilities on the north side of Clay Kaserne that include new sports fields, an auto crafts center and dog kennels. "Our challenge is how to improve the current access control point with the addition of an estimated 500-600 vehicles a day to the north side of Clay Kaserne," Gerber said, explaining that plans provide for building the new access point so that vehicle operators will not have to drive through downtown Erbenheim.
"From my viewpoint this is a good plan because it leaves the center of Erbenheim alone and offers quick access to (highway) B455," said Dr. Müller.
The garrison's transformation director also reported that construction will continue in Hainerberg Housing to modernize the schools and should start near the end of this year on the new Post Exchange complex, followed by a new commissary and access control point in the 2014/2015 time frame.
Explaining that military engineers and officials have "worked closely with host nation planners," Gerber said plans also call for the current movie theater, service station/shoppette to remain where they are in Hainerberg, while the Main Exchange building will be converted into the community's inprocessing center.
William Trabucco, USAG Wiesbaden's director of emergency services, asked the host nation administrators to help find a solution to German and American drivers exceeding the speed limit in military housing areas -- in particular on Rheinlandstrasse in Aukamm Housing. Saying that despite monitoring by both the MPs and Polizei, drivers continuously drive above the limit and endanger children on their way to and from school and sports fields. Suggested solutions included installation of a traffic camera, additional signs and speed limit markings on the roadway.
Flight noise was another topic, with the stationing of some 15 helicopters to Clay Kaserne along with members of the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, currently and in the coming months. Carstens and Jeff Stone of the Airfield Operations Office explained that the U.S. military is bound by German federal aviation guidelines which dictate normal operation hours as being between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Friday. While emergency and mission essential training might occur outside of those hours, pilots and aviation planners do everything possible to minimize flight noise, Stone said. It was also explained that as a NATO airfield, Clay Kaserne occasionally serves as the landing and take-off point for Bundeswehr and host nation government aircraft.
While the population is expected to increase from its current 16,550 to just over 19,000 by 2015 as members of the U.S. Army Europe Headquarters transition from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden, garrison leaders said, that is slightly less than projected due to the decision to inactivate V Corps following its current deployment to Afghanistan.
Mark Holt, the garrison's director of public works, described the housing needs of the Wiesbaden military community, a successful environmental protection project to improve the water flow from Clay Kaserne and the return of several properties to the host nation including eight buildings outside the periphery of Crestview Housing and the eventual return of facilities in Mainz-Kastel.
Host nation leaders advised that next year's celebration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's visit to Hessen might be an opportunity for further partnership between German and American school children. "I think this will also be something the garrison will want to participate in," said Carl-Michael Baum, chief of Wiesbaden's Citizens' Affairs Office.
"There is great interest in working together with American schools, and we are looking forward to continued cooperation," said Rose-Lore Schulz, a city councilor for schools, culture and integration.
The garrison's commander thanked host nation administrators for working closely to help find solutions for issues of concern and to provide services such as expanded bus routes between Clay Kaserne and Hainerberg Housing later this year which should help reduce vehicle traffic and protect the environment.
Proposed working groups will meet in the near future to address the specifics of issues raised during the Executive Exchange Council Meeting, Müller said.