By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneFebruary 26, 2010
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Blueprints are a common accessory for Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation employees these days.
Nearly every department that makes up the FMWR - from the Bowling Center to the Child Development Center - is involved in a facilities upgrade project or new construction project aimed at providing better and expanded offerings for the Arsenal community.
And nearly all these projects are set to open in the spring and summer.
"This is really good for our community," FMWR director Derrick Gould said. "All of these projects give back to the Arsenal community. Many of these facilities needed an upgrade regardless. But when you consider all the movement here associated with BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure), these new facilities and facility upgrades are positioning us to better serve the growing Arsenal population."
When planning for facility upgrades and new construction, FMWR has listened closely to its customers, incorporating requests into its projects. As a result, all the upgrades and new facilities are serving specific segments of FMWR's customer base.
More conference meeting space, more areas for people to come together in a casual way, more child care services and more dining options are all part of the FMWR construction plan.
"We have about 3 to 4 million dollars in expansions and upgrades," Gould said. "All of these projects are designed to enhance the quality of life on Redstone. We want everyone to be aware of these projects and to enjoy these new facilities once they are complete."
Francine Stone, FMWR's business development and information technology director, oversees the organization's construction projects and serves as a liaison between FMWR and the Directorate of Public Works.
"Construction usually takes almost two years to get off the ground," she said. "We are expediting these projects in half that time because our Garrison commander (Col. Bob Pastorelli) wants the community to be able to enjoy these new facilities ASAP.
"These facilities will allow us to offer a new level of service. They allow us to offer a whole lot more. It's a win-win situation for our community."
Even with a full slate of projects, Stone predicts even more expansions and upgrades to FMWR facilities will take place in 2010 and 2011.
"Our customers will continue to have new needs, and BRAC will continue to bring in new needs, so we see this construction process continuing beyond the projects that are now under construction," she said.
At the top of the current FMWR construction list is the new 5,000-square-foot conference center located near the Officers and Civilians Club and the 8th tee box on the Links at Redstone.
"This conference center will hold 200 people," Gould said. "It will be great for conferences, meetings and parties.
"We host a lot of conferences on the Arsenal. The Bob Jones Auditorium is the most popular site for these conferences. This is an additional offering for when that is booked up. We are at an all-time high demand for conference space and meeting space, and this new facility will help with that."
The conference center will offer audiovisual capabilities as well as a catering kitchen. It will be completed in midsummer.
Nearby, the Links at Redstone continues to expand to meet the demands of Arsenal golfers. By July 1, the course will offer 36 holes. Yet, about a week after the opening, nine older holes will be closed for reconditioning. The entire course renovations should be completed by October.
Also nearby, renovations at the Firehouse Pub are set for completion in late April.
Arsenal employees working along Martin Road will soon have the added benefit of a new Child Development Center at the corner of Martin and Mills roads. It will consist of two facilities - one with the capacity for 60 children and the other for 124 children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The center will open in June. Registration is now available through Central Enrollment and Registration at 876-3704.
Those who drive regularly through Gate 10 on Patton Road have been able to watch the progress of the Bowling Center's new 70-seat solarium. The solarium is set to open this spring.
"It will add a lot of atmosphere and square footage," Stone said. "It expands the function of the Bowling Center's bar and grill. It offers a lot more customer space for the lunch crowd, Friday night get-togethers and ballgame events. The solarium will provide the Arsenal community the option of reserving it for events and parties."
Across Patton Road from the expanding Bowling Center is the new recreation center/community activity center, with upgrades set for completion this summer.
"This project is converting the former Diane Campbell Recreation Center into a community center that will include event ticketing and Leisure Travel along with areas that the community can use," Stone said.
"There will be 4,000 square feet of space that will be used for a wireless coffee shop, learning labs, smart classrooms, expositions, conferences and meetings, and other needs for families. We want it to be a recycling dropoff post as well as a place that Scouting troops and other groups can take advantage of and enjoy. There is a lot of multi-functional user space, a small cafeteria and lots of entertainment offerings. Everything will be state-of-the-art."
Much of the building will serve as a Rec Center for Soldiers until September 2011, when the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School is scheduled to be completely moved to its new training headquarters at Fort Lee, Va. But, after that date, the facility will transition into its permanent role as a community center.
And, behind the Community Activity Center, a lot of dirt work is being done as FMWR makes upgrades to its Activity Field, home of the summer concert series and Oktoberfest among other events. The upgrades include a concrete performing area, two large pavilions, a tent site, a drainage system and an electrical upgrade. All improvements should be complete by mid-June.
"These upgrades will make the field a lot more functional for our community," Stone said.
FMWR's Outdoor Recreation Complex is also getting new facilities. Its retail store and equipment storage facility is now open with a 5,000-square-foot facility for administrative offices, classroom space and additional storage set to open in late April.
"We are centralizing their facilities into one complex," Stone said.
The RV park has also been upgraded in recent months. New RV pads, bath house, laundry facilities, a dog park and a pavilion have been added. It has also gotten wireless capabilities.
"The RV park is very popular. These changes are based on the demands of our customers," Stone said.
On the south end of the Arsenal, the Easter Posey campground area will have a new dock and outdoor grills, and upgrade pavilions by the end of April.
The Youth Center will also see upgrades, with a new roof, ceiling tiles, carpeting and other interior features added by the end of May. Library renovations have recently been completed, including new sitting areas, meetings rooms and administrative space, and electrical upgrades.
Renovations at the Arts & Crafts Center have also recently been completed, with the facility getting a new roof, exterior shell, lighting, ceiling and heating system. Similar renovations will be coming soon to the Auto Skills Center, with completion set for May.
A major expansion is also under way at the Wellness Center on Digney Road, which is closed while construction takes it from a 3,000-square-foot to an 8,000-square-foot facility.
The expansion will include new locker rooms and a lot of new equipment. Its opening is slated for the summer.
Other physical fitness upgrades include renovated tennis and basketball courts on Goss Road and tennis courts near Pagano Gym, set for completion by the summer season; and new dugouts and bleachers at the Youth Sports Field. New pool liners will also be installed in the Arsenal's two pools, and pool playground equipment will be installed in the Goss Road pool by the beginning of the summer swimming season.
"We are hoping all these new facilities and upgrades are completed as scheduled," Stone said. "But in all these projects, weather is a variable. So, are material shortages and all kinds of construction issues that can come up. Even though we are shooting for these dates, they can be pushed back a month or even more."
Now, with facilities projects completed or nearing completion, Stone is working to make sure they are equipped and furnished for customers.
"We are nearing the time when we need to discuss how we are going to open these new facilities," she said. "We went through a rigorous process of getting these projects developed and funded. Now, we need to plan how we will open them, and the activity managers in these specific areas are vital for helping us equip these facilities as well as helping us with a vision for our future growth."
For more information on new and expanding FMWR facilities, check out its website at www.redstonemwr.com.