Families 'pay it forward' with input to improve Army housing

By Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMay 22, 2019

Camp Zama's community members pay it forward
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Current Army Family housing residents on Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area were able to provide direct input and ideas aimed at improving the quality of life for future residents.

Camp Zama's Directorate of Public Works invited residents to participate in the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Family Housing District area development plan, held May 13 through 16, allowing them to discuss housing issues and ideas for improvements with a team of subject-matter experts and outside consultants.

"We wanted to hear from Family members, Soldiers and civilians as users," said Peter Heerens, chief of the Planning Branch at DPW.

Some of the ideas and suggestions raised during the workshop included further developing Dewey Park on Camp Zama, adding designated bicycle lanes, and improving the condition of the sidewalks, Heerens said.

The consulting firm that participated in the workshop, the Schreifer Group, will draft a report based on the input they received and present it to Camp Zama and SHA residents at a future town hall, Heerens said.

"The community members will have an opportunity to give us feedback [on the report], and we will incorporate that feedback into the final product," said Heerens.

Jill Schreifer, chief executive officer for the Schreifer Group, said the workshop was "collaborative, educational and interactive."

Schreifer said she and her team spent a week looking at installation master planning criteria, and will take that data they received during the workshop, analyze the feedback they received, and think of ways to incorporate that information into future housing development plans.

The workshop was a chance to ensure Soldiers, civilians and their Families are truly taken care while they are residents in Army Family housing, Schreifer said.

"We really want to make sure that the projects that have been identified reflect the needs and interests of the community as well," said Schreifer. "It's an exciting opportunity for [these Families] to get to shape the future."

Some of the ideas suggested during the workshop may come to fruition and be completed while those residents are still here, but most will be enjoyed by future residents in the years to come, Schreifer said.

"I think the military community always loves to give back and pay it forward," Schreifer.

Housing resident Michael Dahle, who attended the workshop, said he and the other participants were able to discuss realistic and meaningful projects that will provide future residents with a more welcoming living space. The only way changes like these can come about, Dahle said, is if Army housing communities get involved and ensure their voices are heard.

"I learned a lot [at the workshop]," said Dahle. "It felt like we had say in our community."

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Army.mil: Families