A new Outdoor Learning Center and Path to Nature, which officially opened Monday, is among a list of projects paid for with energy cost savings generated at Redstone.
“This is really important for our community and not only for the community that lives, works and thrives on Redstone Arsenal, our federal center of excellence, but also the greater community,” Redstone Senior Commander Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan, Army Materiel Command’s deputy commanding general, said. “This is just one more reason that you want to relocate here – because of the great things that we have going on.”
Mohan joined Redstone and community leaders, educators and students for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the project, which, along with other quality-of-life initiatives, were funded with the energy savings that the Arsenal generated since 2014.
Under the Resilient Energy Funding for Readiness and Modernization program, the Army recognizes validated energy cost savings based on reduced energy consumption, then shares that savings 50-50 with the installations that generated those savings. Redstone was the first Army installation to receive funding under the REFoRM projects in fiscal year 2022.
Among REFoRM projects are:
· The repaving and widening of nearly eight miles of fitness trails across the Arsenal.
· Improvements at the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreation Area with refurbished pavilions, bathrooms, sports areas and a playground.
· A recently completed outdoor sports center with beach volleyball courts and new restrooms.
Mohan said another project in the works, which he called his favorite, is the addition of pickleball courts.
The REFoRM projects will add to Redstone’s amenities “so we can continue to improve the quality of life of this federal center of excellence,” he said. “For our federal partners, we hope that your teammates are using these as part of their facilities as well.”
Garrison Commander Col. Brian Cozine and his team “do yeoman’s work every day to make this place safe and secure and a place where we can all thrive,” Mohan said. “We win” when people who aren’t connected to the installation or the Army visit Redstone and see its amenities.
The new center features an elevated boardwalk and wildlife observation deck with seating and tables at the end of the gravel trail.
“This is going to be a great resource,” Jared Sapp, a member of the North Alabama Birdwatchers Society, said. The area has “a sampling of a few different types of habitat” like a tupelo gum swamp and hardwoods, to provide birdwatchers with a variety of birds, said Sapp, who works at the Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, Analysis Center.
During the ceremony, Cozine thanked Don Henderson, energy manager with the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, who developed the energy conservation packages that were submitted to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, REFoRM program office.
“With all of his effort and initiative, (Henderson) was able to get the projects moving forward,” Cozine said.
Cozine also thanked the design team – Kelly Casey, Nathan Rogers, David Washburn and Kathleen Maker and project manager Jeremy Jackson – and the construction contractor CCI Utility and Construction Services.
“Without these individuals, this project would not have continued to move on,” he said.
Other guests included Madison Mayor Paul Finley; Johnnie Sharp, the assistant director of the IT Infrastructure Division at the FBI’s campus in Huntsville; Joseph Pelfrey, acting director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and Army Materiel Command’s Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers.
Three students from the Little Forest School, Jack Barry and Maxwell and Adelaide Callaway, and Collier Malone, who turned 5 that day, led the group on a nature path walk.