By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideFebruary 18, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - More than 50 Linden Oaks residents brought various community issues to the attention of Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Sicinski Tuesday during a Town Hall meeting, which took place at the Linden Oaks clubhouse.
Also attending were Dr. Emily Marsh, Fort Bragg Schools superintendent, Dan Ahern, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate, Col. Mary A. Maier, Fort Bragg provost marshal and representatives from Picerne Family Housing.
One of the biggest concerns for Linden Oaks residents was related to providing a shuttle service for Albritton Junior High School students who participate in afterschool activities. This question was asked because students who participate in the same activities and live on the main cantonment are able to ride the shuttle bus from Tolson Youth Activities Center to their homes. It was asked if the same service could be provided for those who live in Linden Oaks.
"The short answer is that you will not have the problem next school year," Sicinski said, "because the middle school will be here at Linden Oaks. It will actually have a reverse effect because all of the middle school-aged kids will be here, but there will be about 90 kids from Pope Air Force Base and North Bragg who will get shuttled here and the bus will take them back to Fort Bragg at the end of the day."
Marsh said that because the two new school are set to open at Linden Oaks next year, the community will save many thousands of dollars and they will be reprogrammed to allow the school system to provide those afterschool services next year.
"Next year, both middle schools, Albritton and the new middle school at Linden Oaks will be running buses that will take the children home after the extracurricular and sports activities," she said.
Sicinski added that he would consider running a shuttle from Tolson to the Linden Oaks community in the near future. He also pointed out that within 10 months, there will be a youth center in the Linden Oaks area.
Among other concerns of the Linden Oaks residents in attendance was the recent increase of break-ins in the housing area. According to Maier, the community has seen seven break-ins in the past four months, but she explained that they are being investigated.
"One thing you could do to help us is to lock your doors," Maier said. She also recommended that they set up a neighborhood watch with which resident could watch their neighbor's homes to ensure that everything remains safe.
"Generally speaking, this is a very well-behaved neighborhood," Sicinski said. "Military communities are very well-behaved when you look at it from a statistical perspective."
Attention was also placed on the MPs who patrol Linden Oaks, as several residents pointed out that they were not performing up to standard.
Sicinski said the command would definitely look into it and address that situation.
"Linden Oaks, really is over-patrolled," Sicinski said. "From a law enforcement to resident ratio, it is patrolled three or four times more than an off-post neighborhood. (The ratio) is twice of what it is on-post."
Sicinski, who hosted the event, began the event by address the influx of personnel and vehicles that the post is seeing as the Base Closure and Realignment Commission-mandated moves are beginning. The BRAC decision includes the closing of Fort McPherson, Ga., which requires that personnel from U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army Reserve Command transfer to Fort Bragg. The moves are scheduled to be complete by the end early next year.
He explained that Fort Bragg is the Army's largest post and it supports a population of 263,000 personnel, who are responsible for 75,000 vehicles that pass through the gates each day. He said that number is expected to rise during the summer.
"We have more civilians in our workforce on Fort Bragg than any other installation, in the Army by far," Sicinski explained. "We've got just over 11,000 at the moment, we're going to grow to almost 14,500 by the end of the BRAC cycle.
"We're also growing because of our retiree population," he continues. "Our retiree population is almost 100,000, including their Family members. But instead of people retiring and leaving the area, they're relocating from where ever they are retiring and coming to the Fort Bragg area."
He explained that those are the contributing factors to long lines at the commissaries, post exchanges and ID card sections and it is also the reason for the congestion on the roadways.
"We've grown well beyond the current infrastructure or capacity to support our size," he explained. "We have a 1950s and we're trying to put money into upgrading it."
Sicinski also said post residents can expect to see a lot of construction around the post, including a new community activities center that will sit on the location that is currently occupied by the old noncommissioned officers club. The 50,000 square-feet building will be able to seat about 1,250 occupants at any time.
He said there also plans for new child development centers on Sicily Drive and in the Linden Oaks housing area and Sports USA is set for renovation, which should be completed by September. There are also plans for a new Family Readiness Group center to built at the Pope Air Force Base club, once Fort Bragg assumes responsibility in March.
Attention was also given to the fact that Linden Oaks has several construction projects in the works that include new paved walking paths, two baseball/softball fields and an open, multipurpose field for soccer of football.