WIESBADEN, Germany – On Feb. 23, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Commander Col. David Mayfield addressed an assembled town hall audience, providing updates about ongoing and future projects, as well as fielding questions from those in attendance at the Taunus Theater on Lower Hainerberg.
The Garrison command team and staff leadership joined the commander in the first town hall held in-person since the rise of the global pandemic three years ago. Town halls are another opportunity for the command team to interact with the community, be transparent and solicit feedback from the Garrison.
Acknowledging some of the challenges off-post Army housing communities face in Wiesbaden, Mayfield discussed his concerns about enforcing traffic standards on the German roads that run through these neighborhoods.
One challenge in controlling vehicle speed through these open communities is that the lower speed limits do not match what local Germans are accustomed to in similar streets throughout Wiesbaden. And due to German jurisdiction over these neighborhood roads, making safety improvements includes a variety of coordination and approval with the City of Wiesbaden.
Mayfield indicated that he hopes to see additional speed mitigation measures on RheinlandStrasse starting to take place by May of 2023.
“We’ve been working this since September, we’re still working it now,” Mayfield explained. “What we will be doing is emplacing some speed mitigation in the form of islands that should act more as a serpentine and slow traffic down.”
Mayfield said he will continue to work with the City of Wiesbaden to try to emplace further mitigation measures.
Coming out of COVID, the garrison did a holistic review of their policies with the intent of updating or consolidating policy letters as needed, or eliminating those that did not make sense.
“We needed to make sure that, coming out of COVID, we had a very firm foundation to our house. And that usually comes in the form of making sure all your policies are straight,” said Mayfield.
Several policies were updated, to include a revised parking policy and housing policies, such as the pet policy, holiday decorations and the policy that dictates the process by which housing is assigned to families moving onto the garrison.
The pet policy was changed to allow residents to have three pets, while the previous policy allowed only two pets per family in military housing.
Mayfield added that the intent of the reviews was to improve the quality of life for the military community.
The issue of abandoned cars on the installation has been a topic from previous town halls due to valuable parking spaces wasted by these vehicles left behind when individuals PCS. Garrison leadership recognized there should be an easier process to donate vehicles before individuals PCS and leave the area.
Mayfield told the audience that car donation must follow a certain process and is not as simple as it seems. The problem is a two-fold issue, he added, because cars left on the installation take up a large area and the garrison’s costs to remove the unwanted vehicles is expensive.
The Garrison has introduced a more streamlined process where those individuals PCSing can work with the Wiesbaden Auto Skills Center to donate their car and have it towed for a nominal fee. If the car is located on the Wiesbaden installation, the car will be towed for a $30 donation fee. If the car is located off the installation, the towing will be a little higher due to administrative fees, but can still be towed for a $10 donation fee in addition to $95 towing fee plus $1 per kilometer.
Mayfield provided an update on several garrison construction projects, including a focus at Mainz Kastel Station where Soldier quality of life projects, speed mitigation measures and the addition of proper signage have been some of the most recent improvements.
Acknowledging that it will take years to see other projects come to fruition, making some improvements on Mainz Kastel Station is a slightly easier process because – unlike the Aukaam and Crestview housing areas – the U.S. Department of Defense has greater jurisdiction over the roads.
Mayfield also provided an update on the ongoing and lengthy construction project to repair and improve the road surface of Lindsay Boulevard – the main east/west thoroughfare on Clay Kaserne.
One way to improve quality of life for Soldiers is to help provide better options to conduct physical fitness training. Garrison leaders recognize there are limited areas on Clay Kaserne for units to conduct morning PT, but see potential along Lindsay Boulevard.
“As early as next week…we’re going to take some of our unit leaders and look at the location (along Lindsey Boulevard) and say what are those pieces of equipment that will help you get after some of your training needs,” said Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Russell.
After providing updates, Mayfield opened the floor for audience questions.
A question about providing overhead protection for vehicles in the Aukamm military community housing area sparked a discussion about the evolution of electric vehicles on the road and the hope that the shift will support the need for a better parking coverage solution in the future.
Acknowledging that many stateside military housing areas have attached garages or covered parking areas, many overseas housing areas do not have that protection, specifically those communities with stairwell housing and less room overall.
Mayfield spoke to the assembled audience about the challenge of different projects which compete for garrison resources and how the process can take years for an idea to become a plan of action.
In overseas areas that process takes longer – two years to design and an additional three years for that design to go from the planning to the execution phase.
What we are planning now will benefit community members a couple years from now, explained Russell, adding that he hopes the community continues bring ideas to the Garrison that will shape the community of the future.
Attendees also provided suggestions about how to improve Garrison-supported Halloween events and trick-or-treating for this upcoming year.
While reiterating the importance of celebrating customs with our German host nation neighbors, the command team acknowledged that this past Halloween there were some issues with crowd control and understands that residents would like the Garrison to explore potential avenues to support candy distribution. Residents were told that the lessons learned from last year’s event will help guide any future events.
Looking ahead, garrison leadership spoke about how they will continue to find the best ways to address the community through town halls. Multiple audience members voiced their concerns with the town hall scheduling and hoped to see different options in the future.
Sympathetic to the concern, both Mayfield and Russell sought audience input to find possible solutions, while acknowledging that it is difficult to please the entire community, all the time. Russell reiterated that the garrison is always striving to make a difference in the community and be transparent.
“Our job is to always help this community in any way we can,” said Russell.