Arlington National Cemetery's Welcome Center renovations set to start later this month

By Patrick BloodgoodSeptember 18, 2014

Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ARLINGTON, Va. - A Falls Church, Virginia company will perform major renovations to Arlington National Cemetery's welcome center here.

The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, awarded Polu Kai Services, LLC -- a native Hawaiian owned, small disadvantaged business, service-disabled veteran owned business -- with a $4.3 million contract Aug. 25 to make upgrades to the facility, including its basement space visitor bathrooms, and the electrical, water and fire protection systems.

"Our welcome center was constructed in 1988 and we've made several improvements in the past few years, but no major renovations since then, so it's overdue for some upgrades," said Col. Joseph A. Simonelli, Jr., ANC chief of staff. "It's time for us to improve our visitor restrooms, make the basement area more usable, upgrade our fire protection and suppression systems and upgrade access for the disabled in accordance with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act standards."

According to Greg Hegge, the Norfolk District project manager supervising the work to the center, one main component of the renovation work is consolidating the staff in a central location, which facilitates collaboration and organizational efficiency.

"This project will completely renovate the basement of the welcome center to provide much-needed office space for the staff at Arlington National Cemetery," Hegge said. "The staff at ANC are currently located in multiple facilities throughout the cemetery."

For visitors to the cemetery, the greatest impact to their experience will be the overhaul to the bathrooms, which means they will have to use temporary facilities next to the center.

"This project will reduce the water and energy requirements to the restrooms through new energy efficient fixtures and hand dryers," Hegge said.

The work is expected to start later this month and last through July 2015.

"The visitor and family experience at ANC is very important to us," said Simonelli. "While this will affect visitors for a short time - our visitor restrooms will be closed, one of our entrances will also be closed for the project duration - in the long run, though, I really think the public will be pleased with the overall improvements this will provide to the visitor experience."