By: JENNIFER LINDQUIST, Fort Sill Cannoneer

Picerne Military Housing, one of the nation's largest military housing developers, is ready to privatize and personalize more than 1,600 military houses on Fort Sill.
Fort Sill and Picerne Military Housing signed a 50-year contract in a ceremony on post Oct. 26.
The privatization will have two stages, explained John Picerne, Picerne Military Housing president and CEO. The first eight years will be the building period in which new homes will be built, existing homes will be renovated and family services will be brought to the Fort Sill housing area. The second stage of the fifty year partnership will be maintaining and rebuilding homes as needed.
"We will work together looking, as a partnership, at those different issues and how we want to prioritize new home development and maintenance of those existing homes and their renovation schedule while also looking at those unique pieces that turn it into a community, versus a housing area," said Col. Robert Bridgford, Fort Sill garrison commander.
Picerne Military Housing has privatized five other military housing areas including Fort Bragg and Fort Riley. The company is known for their Family First program. The program includes a neighborhood amenity package of three neighborhood centers on Fort Sill which will house clubrooms, gathering centers, media centers and ball courts explained Picerne. Playgrounds will also be built throughout the neighborhoods.
"We will have a lot of green space and create a more active green space. I harken back to when I was a kid in the neighborhood where I grew up and there were 20 to 30 kids that could play ball anywhere. That's the idea we are trying to bring back to the Army facilities...There will be basketball courts, volleyball courts, baseball fields and soccer fields where kids can play and all within the neighborhoods, creating a better quality of life," said Picerne.
Picerne will be hiring around 80 local residents as permanent employees. Those employees will help keep housing maintenance and work orders down to a 24 to 48 hour reaction time.
Picerne housing and Bridgford's staff are currently in the planning stages, and will be so, until March 2008, explains Picerne. The plans will then go through the proper channels to get approved and will be put into action beginning a year from now.
"This is a great partnership and so unlike a typical contractor relationship because we'll be making decisions together over the course of fifty years and it is all geared towards creating a better quality of life for the families and Soldiers who serve here at Fort Sill," said Picerne.