PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Presidio of Monterey broke ground for a new, much-anticipated dining facility here April 17.

The new facility will replace the aging Combs Hall dining facility, which was built on the Presidio in 1966.

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, representing California's 20th congressional district, was the guest of U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey Commander Col. Paul W. Fellinger at the ceremony, which was attended by a wide array of stakeholders, both military and civilian, as well as local media.

During Fellinger's brief remarks prior to the actual work of the ceremonial breaking of the ground, he welcomed the attendees and honored guests and spoke about the importance of the construction to not only the military community, but to the neighboring communities outside the gates, "because of how closely we are wedged into the local communities, we do a lot of close cooperation with the city governments and the services they provide their citizens and to the Presidio."

Gesturing toward the construction site, Fellinger said, "This new facility -- and projects like it -- provide our language students with the best learning environment possible."

Farr also spoke at the ceremony about the importance of the institute to the Monterey Bay community and vice versa, saying that "we have spent over $120 million on the facilities here. That means jobs for our local community, right here in Monterey."

"This is a very important facility -- it's a meeting place for our military, for dialogues," Farr said, adding that "it may not seem to be all that important a building when it comes to the mission, but we all know that it is. And I'm going to grab every penny I can out in Washington to build what we can to support you and help you accomplish your mission."

The new 26,000 square-foot one-story dining facility is being constructed to replace Combs Hall which is currently operating at over capacity in support of service member students of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.

When completed near the end of 2015, the new facility will be able to accommodate and serve more than 1,300 personnel in just less than 90 minute, three times a day.

Additionally, the new DFAC will alleviate overcrowding during peak periods and provide a more pleasing indoor and outdoor dining experience. The new DFAC plaza and main front entrance will face the Monterey Bay and provide student service members with scenic hilltop views of the Pacific Ocean while simultaneously alleviating overcrowding and delay for DLIFLC students on the run.

The new DFAC will be located in the existing parking lot behind building 629 and near the existing Combs Hall dining facility located in building 627.

Combs DFAC will be closed following the opening of the new facility, which should provide a seamless transition for patrons, said Bethany Pinkas, plans and operations chief for the Logistics Readiness Center here.

In keeping with the Presidios' long-range sustainability plan the state-of-the-art facility is designed under current standards by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED, to the Silver Criteria, leveraging the latest energy- and water-conservation technologies, while operating efficiently, and in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner, and with a significantly reduced carbon footprint than that of the current Combs Hall dining facility.

No less important than its construction and operation, the new facility is designed to be both practical and pleasant, enhancing the quality of life for service members while stationed on the Presidio, and is a key part of a larger funded military construction plan for a new 320-service member barracks building and 18,000 square-foot administration building to be built nearby.

To learn more about the people and facilities of the Presidio of Monterey visit the official garrison website at www.monterey.army.mil.