By Kari Hawkins, USAG Redstone January 9, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In some respects, 2012 can be viewed as a "settling year" for Redstone Arsenal's construction activity.
After welcoming the opening of new facilities for such organizations as the Army Materiel Command and its band, the Security Assistance Command, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, the Redstone Test Center and the Missile Defense Agency in 2010 and 2011, this past year has been a time to lay the foundation for organizational transformation and future growth.
"The end of fiscal year 2011 was the completion of movement of organizations to Redstone," said Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton.
"We really started 2012 with the new organizations that had arrived with BRAC (the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure recommendations) really beginning their first full year in all their new facilities."
While Redstone gained much with the 2005 BRAC that led to substantial new facility construction, the loss of one of its long-time organizations -- the Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School -- turned out to be a dark cloud with a silver lining. The facilities vacated by OMEMS created a bonanza of empty buildings that could be used to consolidate and transform the Arsenal's organizations.
"The loss of OMEMS set conditions to allow us to begin major renovations," Hamilton said. "So where FY11 was the completion of a lot of major military construction projects, FY12 was a time when we were able to focus on many of the internal movements and the renovation of facilities.
"The projects that we've undertaken really started as we transitioned from FY11 to FY12."
While the physical manifestations of that work has been obvious all year with the renovations that are ongoing in the Gate 10 area, the first major change to come to fruition was the July opening of the One Stop for human resource services on Honest John Road. In addition, other changes in the area -- the positioning of a Pershing missile as the centerpiece of a historical missile park, the relocation of such organizations as the Garrison's Equal Employment Office and the Arsenal's Judge Advocate General office, the move of the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion into extra space in the 2nd Recruiting Brigade headquarters, the reopening of the Redstone Gym as an aquatic center, and the demolition of dilapidated barracks buildings -- are all part of the reshaping of the Gate 10 area.
"Little by little, the entire area around One Stop is becoming like the Arsenal's downtown where employees, residents, servicemembers and visitors can receive services from the Garrison," Hamilton said."
In 2013, the Arsenal's new Welcome Center -- including Army Community Service, Child and Youth Services and the Java Café -- will open on Honest John Road across from the One Stop in building 3443 (once the Dining Facility), the Pershing missile historical park will be complete, the JAG office will move into building 3439 vacated by the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion, the Army Education Center will move to the newly renovated Toftoy Hall (building 3495) and the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and the Civilian Human Resources Agency will move into their newly renovated buildings 3458 and 3459 (once belonging to the 832nd Ordnance Brigade).
These new residents will be welcomed by neighbors who also enjoy fairly recent upgraded facilities, including the Community Activity Center, Heiser Hall and the Bowling Center.
Even though facilities and infrastructure improvements are often the most visible sign of healthy growth, Hamilton stressed that such improvements go beyond the cosmetic level to address the need to provide efficient facilities and quality of life amenities for the Arsenal community.
"One of the most important roles that we have is how we take care of our people," the Garrison commander said. "Though in this particular context we are talking more about facilities, it's not really about the buildings. The buildings are designed the way they are and located where they are to facilitate taking care of people.
"So it's very rewarding to see the amount of effort going into planning and analyzing requirements, and the effort that goes into preparing those facilities. But what's really the great benefit, the great outcome, and what's rewarding about it is the fact that we will end up with facilities that have a real significant impact on the quality of life and the quality of the work environment for all of the people that live and work in this community."
The Garrison staff, much like organizations throughout the Arsenal, has faced its own challenges during 2012 as it relates to downsizing and reorganization.
"It's been an extremely busy year as employees have been accomplishing the mission while also having to go through some transformation within the organization," Hamilton said.
"I am just incredibly proud of how every member of the Garrison has stepped up and took on the challenges of continuing to press this installation forward in terms of community development, in terms of the analysis required to set these plans in motion and do it in an environment where sometimes they were moving themselves."
The Garrison's current workload will continue into 2013, as its staff supports the physical moves of organizations into renovated facilities. The first phase of Arsenal space realignment efforts will come to fruition with employees of the Logistics Support Activity moving from the Sparkman Center into the renovated Building 3303 near Gate 10.
"As they prepare to move during the first half of 2013 there will be a lot of work the Garrison has to do to support them in being successful in the move," Hamilton said. "And that's just the first of many organizations that will be moving in 2013 and 2014.
"We have to make sure that we have identified all the things required to really push these projects across the finish line. Supporting the organizations that are going into these facilities will be a real fun challenge that will come to an end with dedication ceremonies and ribbon cuttings officially opening these new facilities."
In the end, the movement of these organizations will have a positive impact on the Arsenal's and the Army's bottom line.
"The work that we're doing is to achieve what are really the goals that are laid out for every installation and that is to ensure we are utilizing our facilities in an efficient way, that we are not wasting space, that we are shooting to have facilities that are energy efficient, and that we are minimizing shortfalls that require off-post leases, and getting more and more organizations to consolidate on post to reduce the amount of space we have to lease off post," Hamilton said.
"I think, ultimately, every installation is judged on how well it maintains and utilizes facilities. The work we are doing is exactly to meet the Army standards."
As he goes into his last seven months as Garrison commander, Hamilton is confident that the Arsenal is well positioned for the future.
"I think the future is extremely bright for Redstone Arsenal," he said.
"We have an incredible work force. We have great facilities. The mission sets that are accomplished here at Redstone are incredibly crucial to national defense. And, I think, all of the organizations that are here continue to work together for a common purpose. Our tenants will keep Redstone Arsenal a vibrant and important place in our nation's defense."