CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 20, 2019) -- Kristi Ramsey has lived at Camp Zama as a military spouse for more than a year, and in that time she has developed some ideas about how leaders could best improve the installation's housing areas.
Specifically, she would like to see a splash park, a garden and enhanced playgrounds.
Ramsey took advantage of an opportunity to voice her opinion during the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Housing Future Development Community Presentation at the Community Club Sept. 18, as she and other members of the community voted on proposed enhancements to Camp Zama, the Sagamihara Family Housing Area and Dewey Park.
"It's nice to have some input … to actually vote on the some of the projects that they're considering," said Ramsey.
Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of USAG Japan, said community input is an important part of the garrison's 20-year master plan, which is the ultimate outcome of the planning process that included the meeting, and he hopes to receive even more input from residents in the future.
"We're all one family at Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area, and we owe it to you to provide the very best family housing and community space that we can provide," Matelski said. "The only way we can do that is to talk about it."
The meeting, open to everyone in the community, presented ideas from housing residents, active-duty service members and civilian personnel assigned to USAG Japan that officials received during a development plan workshop May 13 through 16 and a resident survey over the summer.
"We'll do some other things to help encourage participation, but I really cherish that feedback, because it's not just us that get to determine what our housing looks like," Matelski said. "It's all about your needs and what you need for your families and your loved ones."
Those who attended the Sept. 18 meeting voted by looking at posters that laid out proposed ideas and placing small, round stickers next to five they liked best.
The ideas for improving Dewey Park included a gazebo; a splash pad; an area for a rock garden and flowering plants; a volleyball court; a walking and jogging path; a campground; aquatic plants; and a soccer field.
For the housing areas, ideas included Japanese-style architecture; landscaping; front yards; backyards; backyard fencing; front-door awnings; connected sidewalks; shared yards; patios; backdoor awnings; detached parking spaces; balconies; and attached parking.
The Schreifer Group, a company helping garrison officials with the planning process, presented the results of the May workshop and the survey at the meeting.
Jill Schreifer, chief executive officer of The Schreifer Group, encouraged residents to get involved.
"We really want to make sure that we're hearing from all of you as residents, and that you're telling friends and neighbors about this process, and really providing that feedback that's going to make Zama a great place in the short-term future, but also in the long-term future," said Schreifer, who grew up in Army housing.
While the master plan looks 20 years out, the plan includes short-range projects for the next zero to five years; mid-range projects for the next six to 10 years; and long-range projects that are 16 years and beyond, Schreifer said.
Several of the short-range projects could be realized within the next year or two, Schreifer said.
Examples of short-range projects included several building renovations, improvements to the historic trail at Camp Zama and an expanded community garden at SFHA.
Meanwhile, examples of mid-range projects included demolishing and replacing the housing at the Eagles Nest; constructing amenities at Dewey Park; and construction of a splash pad at SFHA.
Examples of long-range projects included the construction of a recreation trail at Camp Zama; repurposing Buildings 373 and 158 for community space at SFHA; and construction of community amenities at SFHA.
Schreifer said a pre-final report will be available Oct. 18, and it will include input from the Sept. 18 workshop.
Anyone who would like a copy should contact Peter Heerens, chief of the planning branch of the garrison's Directorate of Public Works, or Akihiro Saito, a master planner in the planning branch, Schreifer said.
The comment period will be open for a month, and the final plan should be done before Christmas, Schreifer said.
Heerens said U.S. Army Installation Management Command installations such as Camp Zama must update their master plan every five years, and all installations are going through the same process.
Matelski said that although the plan looks out 20 years, and some of the changes will not pertain to the people who live here now, residents have a responsibility to look out for those who will arrive after them.
"This is your opportunity to influence the way things will be for the families that may not be you," Matelski said. "And so this is an important venue to provide feedback on the things that you see, that your families see, that your co-workers see in this community that we can make better."