By Karl Weisel, USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 3, 2008
WIESBADEN, Germany - With many Soldiers assigned here currently serving in Iraq, engineers and construction crews are shaping U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden into a first-rate place to live for those troops and their families.
New Army lodging, upgraded housing, a planned mega mall, school makeovers and a host of other projects are aimed at enhancing the overall quality of life in the greater Wiesbaden military community.
"We have many projects ongoing," said Judith Rodriguez Vera, chief of engineering for the USAG Wiesbaden's Directorate of Public Works. "Last year, at the end of the fiscal year (FY 2007), we received about $25 million for projects."
The garrison also received another $11 million to improve family housing.
Even though Army-wide transformation has closed many doors in communities throughout Europe, USAG Wiesbaden, as an "enduring community," is the beneficiary of dedicated plans and funding to provide for a high standard of living - the same standard of quality support and resources that Soldiers and families should expect to find throughout the Army, according to Installation Design Guide guidance.
"We have (more than) 30 housing projects throughout the garrison," said Rodriguez Vera. Housing projects include repairing and replacing playgrounds, upgrading parking areas, renovating facades and fixing walkways.
As part of an updated Area Development Plan, USAG Wiesbaden officials are looking to the future with a five-year plan, ensuring standards are in step with Installation Management Command's Installation Design Guide - meaning that Soldiers and families can find the same quality of life whether they are stationed in Germany or Fort Bliss, Texas.
Whole Neighborhood Revitalization projects in Aukamm, Crestview and Hainerberg housing areas will deliver additional upgrades and renovations, Rodriguez Vera added. And down the road, DPW officials are planning for a new housing complex on Wiesbaden Army Airfield that will provide 326 new housing units.
A host of ongoing environmental projects will examine such matters as water and sewage systems, perform asbestos management and survey any potential lead-based paint issues.
Plus an ongoing urban study at Wiesbaden Army Airfield aims to indentify current and future needs in the areas of water, sewage and utilities.
Therefore, "We've given about 25 projects to the (German company) Hessisches Bau-Management," said Rodriguez Vera, explaining that working with host nation construction officials is crucial to ensuring environmental law compliance and coordination.
"We also have two school projects planned," Rodriguez Vera added, explaining that besides a major high-school upgrade, two new multi-purpose rooms/cafeterias will serve Hainerberg Elementary, Wiesbaden Middle and High Schools.
Another large project is construction of a new bowling center in Hainerberg that will be built near the new lodging hotel. Two housing buildings located behind Army Community Service and adjacent to the hotel construction project will be demolished to make way for the new center.
More than $400,000 has also been invested to provide a facility for injured Soldiers, said Klaus Herbst, an engineering technician for USAG Wiesbaden's DPW. Four buildings on Wiesbaden Army Airfield have undergone renovation work to convert them into wheelchair accessible accommodations as part of the Warrior Transition Unit.
Part of the Army's overall effort to improve the way Soldiers are provided care throughout the recovery process, the WTU project was launched in July, said Herbst, with the first family having moved into a WTU housing unit in September.
Another future project slated to get under way in fiscal year 2011 is construction of a post exchange/commissary shopping complex. Many details, such as possibly acquiring additional land to build upon, still need to be ironed out with the state of Hessen and the U.S. military, Rodriguez Vera said.
"We're doing everything we can to fulfill the requirements of units coming to Wiesbaden and to react to new demographic numbers," she added.
The population of USAG Wiesbaden is expected to increase by nearly a third during the next five years due to transformation and the relocation of U.S. Army Europe Headquarters and other units from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden.