BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- "The military installation Baumholder has changed quite a bit," said Alfred Heu, Mayor of Ruschberg, after a recent tour of the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Baumholder Military Community, along with 20 other mayors, elected representatives, local officials and community leaders.

BMC Deputy Garrison Manager Jim Bradford invited the host nation guests and local Bundeswehr military leaders from the region to exchange information and strengthen partnerships.

"I am pleased to give you an insight into the current infrastructure of our location today," Bradford told the participants in his welcome remarks. Since May of this year, he has been the official representative of the garrison in the BMC.

One of the first stops for the visitors from the Baumholder area, and neighboring districts of Kusel, Birkenfeld and the adjacent Saarland, was the renovated indoor swimming pool. On the way to the indoor pool, near the U.S. golf course, Bradford spoke about planned changes at Wetzel Kaserne, where two new schools and additional townhouses are to be built over the next few years.

Earlier this year, 84 new townhouses were officially opened on Smith Barracks. The visitors stopped at one of the homes and Harald Kastner, head of the Baumholder housing office, led the group through a new townhouse and lauded the Army's modernization efforts aimed at providing safe, clean and quality housing for Soldiers and families.

"The rumor is circulating in Baumholder that American families should no longer be allowed to rent outside," said Bernd Alsfasser, mayor of the district of Baumholder, raising a concern for clarification.

"The procedures have not changed," answered Kastner, allaying that concern. "If no living space is available (on post), Soldiers will be allowed to rent outside the (installation)."

Other stops on the tour included the new BOSS Warrior Zone recreational facility for single Soldiers, the new USO Center and a training simulator.

The visit ended with lunch in the Hard Rock Diner military dining facility, where guests enjoyed a taste of what's available to Soldiers and were able to share their thoughts with commanders of the local tenant units and their command sergeants major, who joined the tour for open discussion.

"Our goal is to keep not only our military residents but our community and area leaders informed of where we are today and where we are going in the future with respect to services, programs and facility improvements. We do events and outreach like today to inform but also strengthen our community ties and ensure cooperation across our community," Bradford concluded.