FORT POLK, La. – Fort Polk residents may soon see signs of improvements to the installation’s housing as Corvias winds up Outyear Development Plan 1 and hopefully soon kicks off ODP2.
Wil Motta, Corvias operations director, said work on ODP1, a $50 million project that comprises both Dogwood and Maple Terrace housing areas, has resumed after Mother Nature put a kink in the plans by throwing two hurricanes, a tropical storm and an ice storm at Fort Polk.
“Dogwood, Phase 1 of ODP1, had a ribbon cutting last year and is completed,” Motta said. “The second phase of the project is taking place in Maple.”
Motta said Corvias leaders and the local Fort Polk command worked together to develop ODP1 to enhance the community.
“In this case there was $50 million available, and the decision was made to do a lot of exterior work,” he said. “The Dogwood project involved exterior painting of buildings, removing and repairing fascia, overlay of roofs and rain gutters. It was a large-scale project. We also did 3.5 miles of road in the area of North Fort.”
Work in Dogwood Terrace included 526 roof repairs, 202 buildings painted, and 402 buildings received trim and rain gutters, Motta said.
“The roof overlays extended the lives of the existing roofs and prevents roof leak issues, which means fewer ceilings and walls we would have to repair due to water intrusion,” he said.
The second phase of the same project involves Maple Terrace renovations, Motta said.
“Keep in mind these renovations were supposed to be completed last year, but nature happened,” he said. “We resumed the Maple Terrace work in mid-January and have overlaid 620 roofs. We identified 620 buildings to paint, of which 297 have been completed.”
Motta said the last part of this phase 2 would be trim or rain gutters on 436 buildings, which has not yet started.
“We’ve been pounded by rain which has made it difficult to complete the work,” he said.
The anticipated completion date of phase 2 is early third quarter of 2022, Motta said.
The monkey wrench in ODP1 was weather that ranged from hurricanes to tropical storms to ice storms,” Motta said.
“We had 2,652 roofs that had damage of some sort,” he said. “Half of those roofs had significant damage. The decision was made by Corvias and the local command that any roof determined by insurance adjustors to need just partial repairs, we would do 100 percent repair. When this project is completed, more than 75 percent of the homes will have an overlay, like we did in Dogwood or Maple, or replaced, like in Palmetto, which was hardest hit by the storms.”
There are still 178 roofs that need repairs, and Motta said they would be taken care of as part of ODP2.
“The original plan for ODP2 called for $39 million,” Motta said. “When you add an additional $36 million from hurricane insurance proceeds, then adjust that for hurricane repairs, that leaves about $60 million for ODP2.”
The local command is on board with the ODP2 plan, Motta said, and it has been forwarded to Installation Management Command and Army Materiel Command for final approval.
Motta said part of ODP2 involves the demolition of the homes on Norris Loop in Palmetto.
“Most of those buildings are vacant so the agreement was to demo 36 of the homes on Norris Loop,” Motta said. “That’s one of nine areas in Palmetto that will be demolished or have already been demolished and will be converted to either more parking or green spaces.”
Part of ODP2 involves housing conversions, Motta said.
“Forty percent of our inventory is two-bedroom homes,” he said. “It is a disservice to our service members when the majority of our inventory is two-bedrooms. Nine out of 10 times, we don’t have service members that come here unaccompanied. At times, they need more space.”
Motta said there are 94 apartment-style two-bedroom fourplexes, upstairs and downstairs.
“The idea is to split the building in two, and make two four bedroom houses instead of four two bedroom houses,” he said.
The total number of buildings to be demolished is 46, Motta said, and the converted houses will decrease the numbers by an additional 47.
“Our end state will be reduced on the two bedroom side, but will bring up more four bedrooms,” he said.
Motta said residents will also see aesthetic improvements to the neighborhood.
“The idea is to upgrade neighborhoods,” he said. “We’ll add carports, geothermal upgrades, road improvements and sidewalks. We want to improve roads, but the consensus is to spend money first on buildings, then on roads.”
ODP1 and 2 will address many issues, Motta said, but there is a lot more to do.
“We’re working with local command to make this an installation of choice, and meet quality of life criteria for our service members and their Families,” he said. “We are the biggest landlord here. We want to make sure the incentive is there for service members to live here. We’re looking into accommodating requests as best as we can.”
Motta said while Corvias might not be perfect, they are concerned for their residents’ welfare.
“When trees fell on houses and homes flooded, when things happened here, we took care of our service members,” he said. “We’re here for our service members. During the storms, we had open hospitality suites for our Families. Our task is to ensure we don’t add stress to our households.”
Motta said ODP2 will see another 1,300 roofs repaired, 1,000 exterior renovations, 185 interior renovations including appliances, 90 gabled carports, and 149 upgrades to geothermal units, putting more than $60 million back into the community.
“This is what the community needed and what we plan to do in the future,” he said. “Does this address every home on post? No. However, is this our goal for the future? Yes.”