FORT CARSON, Colo. - Members of the Fort Carson command staff and local management from Balfour Beatty Communities snipped a 4-inch wide yellow ribbon to ceremonially open the Joel Hefley Community Center in Iroquois Village Nov. 14.

With construction costs approaching nearly three quarters of a million dollars, the new community center rivals similar facilities available to residents in off post, upscale neighborhoods.

Due to cold temperatures and gusty winds on the day of the grand opening, attendees and presenters gathered inside to acknowledge those who made the center possible. One individual stood out as having made the singularly largest impact of anyone connected to the project; retired congressional representative for Colorado's 5th District, Joel Hefley. Although he was not able to personally attend the opening of his namesake community center, his legacy of innovative policy was evident in the very existence of the center and the newer housing areas on post.

"Joel Hefley was really the pioneer behind privatization (of Army housing)," Lynn Rivera, housing manager for Balfour Beatty Communities of Fort Carson said. "He worked really hard on the Department of the Army Residential Community Initiative and Fort Carson was the first Army installation to privatize housing. We really wanted to honor him for his contributions in making privatization a reality."

According to Doug Lobdell, Balfour Beatty Communities project director, Fort Carson's partnership with private business as a source of capital became the model for other Department of Defense communities around the nation.

Lobdell added that funding for the Joel Hefley community center had been set aside a few years ago as a part of the initial enterprise.

Fort Carson housing residents benefit by being able to use the business center, work out room, large kitchen, aerobics room and meeting rooms immediately. According to Lynn Rivera, housing manager for Balfour Beatty Communities on Fort Carson, housing residents are already planning to put the new center to good use.

"We have several Families that are joining together to have a Thanksgiving dinner here," Rivera said.

Rivera added that she would like to see all Families living on Fort Carson to come out to use the center because, she said, "it's for them. It goes along with our Life Works program community activity program that focuses on overall health and wellbeing (for our residents)."

"Down the road, since we're growing so much, we would ideally like to have a similar center on the northern end of the post," Rivera said. Like everything else, it all depends upon the funding.

Col. Eugene Smith, Fort Carson garrison commander, praised Balfour Beatty for delivering a great facility for Fort Carson residents to use.

"We appreciate what Balfour Beatty did by investing in our hometown. This makes Fort Carson an even better place to live," Smith said.

The Balfour Beatty leasing staff is also located in the Joel Hefley community center, which means residents new to Fort Carson will get their first taste of living in the Army's best hometown in the new center.