Fort Belvoir, Va. (Army News Service, May 3, 2010) -- Dirt flew and children's laughter rang out Friday as Fort Belvoir broke ground on its new Child Development Center.

"The importance of the project is not the price tag. It's about serving our families," said Col. David Anderson, district engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District.

Anderson emphasized the importance of the facility to the post, recounting how, earlier in his career, as a young major, he experienced the effects of not having enough available childcare on the installation. He said his wife was, initially, not able to find a job that would allow her the time in the morning to take their children to child care off post.

The 37,300 square-foot facility will accommodate 338 children and 62 staff members and will be operated by the directorate of Family, Morale and Recreation.

"This is a very important day for all of us and it marks the beginning of construction of this family support facility," said Terry Ruggles, from the installation's Public Affairs Office.

The new $10.4 million center is being constructed just inside Pence Gate, across from the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and is being funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Congressman Gerry Connolly, representing Virginia's 11th Congressional District, said the center is being constructed to accommodate growth at Fort Belvoir that comes as a result of Base Realignment and Closure.

"I can remember we had a common challenge after BRAC," said Connolly, who served as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors when the decision to bring 19,000 additional personnel to Belvoir was announced in 2005.

Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt said the event underscores Fort Belvoir's commitment to the Army Family Covenant.

"When it comes to taking care of soldiers and their families, we are doing it. It is the Army Family Covenant. We believe in it. Our leadership is committed to it taking care of soldiers, families, and civilians."

Children from the installation's two existing child development centers joined dignitaries in breaking ground for the facility, which will be completed by August 2011.