By Matthew Montgomery, Fort Lee Public AffairsAugust 17, 2009
FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 14, 2009) -- Increasing from an average daily population of 17,000 to more than 48,000 in a period of less than six years requires major improvements, renovations and revitalization projects.
To make this happen, communication and strong working relationships are essential among the many different agencies, organizations and tenant units residing on the installation. Success could also not be achieved without the solid community partnerships that exist between Fort Lee and its neighbors.
"We have a lot of construction taking place and we rely heavily on our community partners and the strong teamwork here at Fort Lee to make things happen," said Col. Michael Morrow, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee commander. "The economic impact after Base Realignment and Closure construction is complete will result in local economy growth of more than $1.7 billion by 2013. We have an amazing group of people who are forward-thinking and have worked hard to address potential problems with solid solutions."
Through these strong partnerships, Fort Lee has been able to successfully bridge the gap in shortfalls, plan for future growth and reduce strain on the installation.
According to Larry Constantine, Directorate of Public Works and Logistics director, the installation is prepared for the BRAC growth and already has projects completed, coming online this year and scheduled for completion in the near future.
"We have already opened one new child development center and will be holding a (design planning meeting) in the near future to solidify plans on another prefabricated facility," said Constantine. "We are also looking ahead and exploring the possibility of constructing another CDC in the Jackson Circle neighborhood."
Although the additional CDC is in the very early stages with no specific dates, times or costs available, Constantine said it shows the forward thinking and planning that is needed with the upcoming growth. The Jackson Circle CDC would give Families living on the other side of Route 36 a closer option for child care.
Morrow said another example of forward thinking came with the recent announcement that a new 1,000-room temporary lodging facility will be built by February 2012 to support the transient population of military members and Civilians who will train at the Army Logistics University.
There are also numerous projects currently under construction.
"We just recently started construction on a new shoppette," said Constantine. "At the gas station, we are replacing the six existing pumps with 12 new ones that will accept credit cards and make gas available 24 hours a day. There will also be a Popeyes Chicken and a number of car care bays that should all be completed later this fall."
The population increase on the installation has some residents worried about overcrowding in the gyms and the lack of swimming facilities, but Constantine says his team is already aware of this and are working toward solutions.
"In fiscal year 2013, $30 to $40 million will be spent on pools, renovations and two new gyms; one on the Ordnance Campus and the other near the new Army Logistics University," said Constantine. "MacLaughlin and Clark Fitness Centers will receive renovations and additions that include a 50-meter competition pool and 25-meter recreation pool. ALU will also receive a 25-meter pool."
Other future projects include two new chapels, a new two-company fire station and renovations to the Kenner Army Health Clinic.
"We have plans to build a consolidated Troop Medical and Dental Clinic in fiscal year 2011 to handle the student load at the Ordnance Campus," said Constantine. "Until then, Soldiers will be transported over to Kenner from the main campus area."
Fritz Brandt, BRAC project manager in charge of the Ordnance Center and School construction, said the plan for the campus is to make it all-inclusive to provide the best service and support to the Soldiers.
"We have plans to build softball fields, running tracks, a small shoppette with a convenience store and barber shop, along with exercise facilities to support the student population," said Brandt. "We also just completed construction on a new dining facility at the Ordnance Campus that is the second largest dining facility in the Army and capable of feeding more than 1,500 Soldiers per meal."
In addition to the installation growth, two tenant organizations are also experiencing major growth and structural changes.
The Defense Commissary Agency, which operates a worldwide chain of 255 stores and is headquartered at Fort Lee, is expanding its building to move more than 200 employees to the installation in accordance with BRAC initiatives. This $21.3 million four-storied construction project will bring more than 75,800 square feet of space to DeCA.
The Defense Contract Management Agency, which is responsible for ensuring federal acquisition programs, supplies and services are delivered on time, within cost and meet performance requirements, will be moving its headquarters operations to the old Combined Arms Support Command building once renovations are complete.
"This move gives us an opportunity to have a place we can call home," said Dick Cole, chief of public affairs for DCMA. "We currently have headquarters operations in Northern Virginia, California and Boston. After the move, the majority of these operations will be located on Fort Lee."
Cole also said it will be the first time DCMA has been located on a military installation since their split from the Defense Logistics Agency 10 years ago.
"It will be nice to be on an installation where we have a constant reminder of who we serve," he said."