By SUSANNE KAPPLER, Leader StaffApril 24, 2009
More than 100 members of the Fort Jackson community participated in a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Solomon Center.
At the meeting, Soldiers, family members and civilians were updated about ongoing quality-of-life projects on post and also had the opportunity to raise questions or concerns to installation officials.
"It is important for us to get feedback on the good, the bad and, most importantly, the ugly," said Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson commanding general, in his opening remarks.
The three-hour meeting mainly centered around on-post family housing.
Officials from Balfour Beatty Communities, which is responsible for the renovation of existing units and construction of new units, updated attendees on several new developments.
- Residents with leases expiring July 31 have the option to participate in a lease renewal program. Residents who renew their leases for another term will receive first priority for moving into an upgraded home. In addition, they will receive a $250 bonus after signing the lease renewal and an additional $250 bonus at the end of the renewed lease.
- All residents can now apply to move to renovated quarters in Pierce Terrace V and Pierce Terrace VII. Residents will be placed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Property beautification projects are under way throughout the community. Playgrounds are currently being upgraded and the landscape beautification project will restart in mid-May. The current landscaping contract was terminated and a new contract will be awarded soon.
- Despite recent delays in project timelines, 29 new homes are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009. The new homes include those for both enlisted Soldiers and officers.
Emma Watson, Residential Communities Initiative director, and Karen Padgett, Balfour Beatty community manager, encouraged all residents to contact them with concerns they have.
"We don't want you to feel like you have issues and we don't care," Watson said. "That's not the case."
Other items presented during the meeting were the Ready Army emergency management campaign and upcoming AAFES projects.
Throughout the meeting, participants voiced concerns about several issues, such as feral cats in the housing area and the lack of facilities for recreational shooters. In response, the respective garrison representatives said they would look into possible solutions.
Anni Mezzofante, a family member, said that participating in the town hall meeting is important and highlights the fact that the Fort Jackson community extends beyond only Soldiers.
"Civilians need to be involved in the community too, as we're a part of this community," she said. "I think we need to remember that we're part of this community. If we don't come, we forget that maybe."
Col. Lillian Dixon, Fort Jackson garrison commander, was pleased with the attendance.
"This is one of the best turnouts we've had at a town hall meeting since I've been here," she said.
She added that town hall meetings are being scheduled quarterly from now on. The next town hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 17.