FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood leaders hosted a quarterly housing town hall Tuesday evening at Stonegate Community Center, providing an opportunity for on-post family housing residents to get the most up-to-date housing information, voice any concerns or ideas and have issues addressed.
Col. Anthony Pollio, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, introduced himself — Pollio took command of the garrison earlier this summer — and thanked the residents, community mayors, command teams and representatives from Balfour Beatty Communities, Fort Leonard Wood’s housing partner, who attended the event.
“The intent for this forum is to put out information for the community, so you can track what we’re doing, but also to get feedback about where we need to focus our efforts,” he said. “We appreciate your participation in this, because as I tell everybody, we can’t fix problems if we don’t know what they are. We rely on you to let us know what problems need to be addressed, so we can try to do our best to fix them.”
Pollio kicked off the town hall with a brief explanation of how revenue from service member housing allowances fund the operating costs of the various communities on the installation — including the utilities and maintenance for nearly 2,000 homes — and the reinvestment account designed to provide funding for upgrades and other improvements.
“I just want folks to understand how the system works and what we’re doing to address concerns,” he said. “After all the overhead that is associated with operating housing gets deducted, whatever money that is left over gets put into what’s called a reinvestment account. Now, that account is what, over time, is designed to build up, so we can then do major renovations and replace legacy homes. The problem we have is that our (basic allowance for housing) rates at Fort Leonard Wood are low and our costs are high, because we have some very old homes that are very expensive to maintain. What happens is, we have a very small amount of money flowing into our reinvestment account.”
Currently, Pollio said the garrison team is looking at how best to spend the available funds to benefit the most residents possible. One option being analyzed is upgrading the heating, ventilation and cooling systems, the mechanical closets and the ducting on existing homes — Pollio pointed out that 1,146 homes here were built prior to 1962.
“Right now, we’re estimating maybe about 250 homes might be able to be upgraded,” he said. “We call that asset preservation, where we would extend the life of some of our homes, but it still doesn’t fix our long-term problem. Our goal and our desire is to get the funds to replace the legacy homes.”
As the warmer months in Missouri start to wind down, Pollio introduced Ron Hesteness, BBC’s facility director, who said 80 percent of plumbing costs here are due to frozen pipes. He asked residents to get in the habit of detaching garden hoses from outside water spigots when not in use and to open cabinets along exterior walls with water pipes inside when freezing temperatures arrive. He also asked that residents continue to change air filters monthly — filters are available for free through BBC.
Safety issues in housing regarding recreational vehicles, trailers and parking were also addressed.
With children playing outside in the neighborhoods, it’s important to eliminate risks, and parked vehicles along the street create blind areas, where drivers may not have time to stop if a child runs onto the street, said Jason Williams, BBC’s community manager here. Williams said RVs, off-road vehicles and trailers are only allowed in housing when they are being loaded and unloaded. The rest of the time, they must be stored elsewhere, and Williams pointed out that the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has a storage area available. Call 573.596.0243 for details.
Parking violations in housing areas have been another concern, Williams said. Vehicles may be parked on the street in the direction of traffic on the even-numbered side of housing addresses. Having vehicles parked on both sides of the streets create issues when school buses, or fire trucks or other large emergency vehicles need access.
Pollio addressed concerns he has heard regarding the information flow between residents, garrison leaders and housing officials.
“It’s been brought to my attention that there have been instances when folks felt they did not have an appropriate venue to address their concerns, or they felt their concerns were not being listened to,” he said.
One way anyone on Fort Leonard Wood can voice a concern — or give kudos for a job well done — is through the Interactive Customer Evaluation system, Pollio said. Commonly referred to as ICE, the Department of Defense-wide online portal provides an outlet for feedback.
“We read every single ICE comment,” Pollio said. “If you want somebody to close out with you, or follow up with you, you can put your name on there. If you don’t want to put your name on there, you can submit one anonymously. I just ask when someone does an ICE comment, try to be specific. Please explain what the issue is, and if you have recommendations, let us know.”
The ICE system can be found online here.
The community mayors are another avenue of communication for housing concerns, Pollio said.
“They are the first touchpoint for the communities,” he said. “The mayors each run a Facebook page, and I meet with them monthly.”
When maintenance is required in on-post family housing, residents have options to assist them, Hesteness said.
Routine maintenance requests may be made online through the resident portal on the BBC website. Work order requests received via the website are monitored during normal duty hours, Hesteness said. Non-routine maintenance needs can be addressed by calling BBC’s 24/7 work order line at 573.329.4000. If that is unavailable for any reason, residents are encouraged to contact their community mayor.
Pollio opened up the town hall for questions, and attendees took the opportunity to have concerns addressed, including issues with stray and wild animals and speeding in housing areas.
Although Fort Leonard Wood does not have an animal control office, residents who see stray animals, or who have issues with wild animals in housing should call the Directorate of Emergency Services at 573.596.6141. Law enforcement officials here said they make every effort to help transfer these animals to the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility.
Child safety is a top priority for DES, and officials said they try to maintain a presence in housing areas. With school now back in session, it’s also important to make safety a priority in school zones and at bus stops, where children tend to congregate.
Officials reminded drivers that vehicles in both lanes must stop when a school bus has its red warning lights flashing and the stop sign is extended. It’s also important to watch for school zones with reduced speed limits. Law enforcement conducts focused patrols near schools to help ensure safety.
In addition to quarterly housing town halls, Pollio said he also plans to host a monthly walking town hall through different housing communities. Follow the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on upcoming events on the installation.