Improvements will be made to the picnic tables at the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreational Area on the south side of Redstone Arsenal on the Tennessee River through REFoRM funds.
Improvements will be made to the picnic tables at the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreational Area on the south side of Redstone Arsenal on the Tennessee River through REFoRM funds. (Photo Credit: Erin Elise) VIEW ORIGINAL

Next time you leave an unoccupied room at Redstone Arsenal, remember the slogan: “Not in use? Turn off the juice.”

It could result in improvements that benefit you and your family.

Don Henderson, energy manager at the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, said the Arsenal has been awarded energy conservation funds through REFoRM, or Resilient Energy Funding for Readiness and Modernization, a government incentive program authorized by Congress.

Recent awards were based on energy costs at all military installations in the years 2014 and 2015.

“If you saved money and your utility bills went down (from one year to the next), you were awarded the difference,” Henderson said.

In the case of Redstone Arsenal, the difference provided a windfall of about $3 million, which has been earmarked for four projects that will benefit all military and civilian patrons on post, as follows:

·     Outdoor Sports and Activities Area Improvements ($363,000) New restroom facilities will be built on the youth activities field grounds near the soccer fields. Presently, restrooms are “a long walk (away),” Henderson said. Two new “beach volleyball courts” will also be added to the sports field area, he said.

·     Repave Redstone Arsenal Fitness Trail ($1,081,000). The trail is about 25 years old and is in a state of disrepair, mainly due to tree roots, Henderson said. The reason it’s so expensive? The trail is over seven miles long, he said.

·     Outdoor Community Learning Center and Path to Nature ($878,000). An existing outdoor learning center located on the south side of the Arsenal is dated and the path nature is overrun and therefore not much used.

With the newly acquired funds, a new learning center and walking path will be built near the Outdoor Recreation building on Sportsman Drive. Christine Easterwood, ecologist for the Garrison, is excited about the new location and its central location.

“I’m hopeful the center and nature trail will see more use once people learn about it,” Easterwood said, adding that the space will include picnic tables, river rock flower beds and bathrooms on site.

“The nature trail has great potential as it is adjacent to a tupelo swamp, which is a very unique and beautiful wetland habitat,” she said. “It’s important we stay patient because it will take time to transform the new outdoor space.”

·     Improvements to the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreation Area ($372,000). Improvements to pavilions, softball fields and restroom facilities will be made, and new picnic tables will be added to the recreation area on the south side of the Arsenal near the Tennessee River.

Plans for distribution of the REFoRM funds were developed by the Directorate of Public Works and later approved by the Garrison and post commanders, Henderson said.

While the REFORM program is ongoing, this first round of incentive money, announced in late 2020, came as a surprise. But Henderson said energy conservation has been a longtime goal for his directorate.

“We are always working on that,” he said. “That (2014) happened to be a great year for us.”

A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for all four projects will be held Friday at the new site for the learning center and Path to Nature, near Outdoor Recreation on Sportsman Drive.