Munson Heights
Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, Col. Whitney B. Gardner, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and other USAACE and garrison leaders, along with housing officials from Corvias and the post, discuss issues with a housing resident in the Munson Heights neighborhood during the walking town hall May 19. (Photo Credit: Photo by Capt. Kaitlin Dwyer ) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker leadership took to the streets of the Munson Heights neighborhood to meet with residents in their yards and on their porches to gather feedback and help with any issues people may experience with living on post during the its second walking town hall May 19.

Each neighborhood in on-post housing comes with its own unique living experience and challenges, and Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, along with members of his staff and Aviation unit leadership, the garrison command team, the Army housing office and Corvias representatives, plan to visit each community during the walking town halls to find out what life is like in each area, according to Col. Whitney B. Gardner, Fort Rucker garrison commander.

“It was a little different than last time,” Gardner said. “The execution was the same, although we added the Directorate of Public Safety’s sergeant major (Sgt. Maj. Jesus Goytia) to the group to help answer any traffic, law enforcement or security questions.”

The garrison commander said the participation level went up, as well, and that people largely seemed pleased with living on post, and the responsiveness and quality of work they received from Corvias when problems have come up.

Those who discussed issues mainly focused on the hilly landscape in Munson Heights, and the challenges it presents for some residents when there is heavy rainfall, Gardner added.

“There were some concerns that cropped up after the recent rain storms – there are several homes that have to deal with runoff problems at the bottom of a hill with water pooling up in their yards,” he said. “We also spoke with some people who don’t have gutters on their homes, so they’re dealing with runoff problems.

The command group also heard from some residents who were having trouble getting any grass or foliage to grow in their yards because of the shade, Gardner said, adding that Corvias engineers were immediately able to get to work in hopes of finding solutions for each problem.

“We were able to go and look at the areas behind homes, and see what projects have been completed and what we can still do to help out with those issues,” the colonel said. “Right now, we’re focused more on low-cost projects that can divert some of the water away from homes and property, or installing gutters on homes that need them.

“I’m confident in our Corvias and engineering teams that they can come up with solutions in a reasonable amount of time,” he added. “For long-term landscaping that would make the area perfect, we’ll need to try to get that added into financial planning for later years.”

Other residents brought up Corvias’ plan to open neighborhood pools May 28, but with some new policies that have some people concerned.

“To use the pools, people will need to sign a no-harm waiver since there won’t be any lifeguards at the pools this year, but most people don’t seem to have a problem with that,” Gardner said. “But some people did have an issue with Corvias requiring people to make reservations at the pools.”

Melissa Bryson, Corvias’ Fort Rucker operations director, explained the new policies to residents who brought them up, and most seemed satisfied with what she told them, including that no one expects there to be a capacity issue at any of the pools.

Another topic broached by some residents was people abusing the policy on allowing boats, trailers and recreational vehicles in the housing areas for short periods of time, Gardner said.

“There are some people who disregard the lease agreement they sign, and keep boats, trailers and RVs in their driveway or on the street for longer than is allowed,” he said. “We have to keep the streets clear at all times to ensure emergency services are not impeded if there is an emergency. Neighbors also owe it to their fellow neighbors to keep the community aesthetically pleasing – not everyone wants to look out their window and see a big RV.”

All in all, the colonel said the second walking town hall was even more successful than the first, and he hopes that trend continues in the future.

“I think this is a very effective way to conduct town halls. We’re doing our best to get the word out that these walking town halls are happening, but we ask neighbors to help neighbors,” Gardner said. “If you know we’re coming, or you know of fellow residents who have issues, let them know when we’ll be here – that we want to help them and we value their feedback.”