Commentary by Col. Edward Baron
50th Mission Support Group commander
It’s the new year in the year and we’ve said goodbye to some old things and are gearing up to welcome some new projects. Goodbye to the National Security Personnel System, Windows Vista, and hopefully a huge number of helping hands. As the weather warms we’ll accelerate a large number of construction and renovation projects across the base to support new housing residents, the entire base population, and improve the sustainability of the base.
My favorite project is the indoor track that we hope to see break ground on the east side of the fitness center by the end of February. After many contract and design iterations, we were able to award a project to build a steel frame, stressed fabric structure to cover a lighted 1/13 mile track with banked corners. This will provide an all-weather option for running and completing the cardio portion of the fitness assessments.
Another key project that we’re working on is the construction of the temporary multi-purpose facility on the west side of the fitness center. This facility will have classroom space designed primarily to support a part-time youth center, a key gap in our current support to housing residents. Most of the on-base children attend school in Ellicott, which has a four-day week program with no school on Fridays. That leaves three days per week with virtually nothing for them to do on base. We started a school-age program for children 12-and-under last summer. With the multi-purpose facility, we will be able to provide structured activities to educate and entertain our older children base population starting this spring.
For those base personnel who enter and park on the west side of the base, we will finally do away with the double-stop intersection. We removed some stop signs last summer to improve traffic flow as a temporary measure. This spring, the Corps of Engineers will add turn lanes and modify the parking lot to alleviate this trouble spot. This will complete the first two phases of a five-phase plan to reroute roads and add parking. The final three phases will compete for future funding.
Well underway on the west side is the new 310th Space Wing Headquarters, a necessary project to house the reserve wing and provide enough facility space so we can tear down Building 609, which is a temporary facility within the restricted area that has exceeded its design life.
We also have a number of security and xeriscaping projects starting. The Visitor Control Center xeriscaping already started. The Child Development Center will get more xeriscaping, rocks, trees and bollards, to provide increased protection. Building 210 and the medical clinic will also get the same treatment with the addition of a gazebo for the clinic. Most of the landscaping and sidewalks around the north portal, and Bldgs. 300, 301, 400 and 401 will be replaced to improve sustainability and remove all the brick pavers that are coming loose. The two base gates will get overhead roofs to protect the gate guards and augmentees during inclement weather.
On the training side, we are moving Base-X to the far southeast corner of the base. This will isolate the training area from the rest of base operations to avoid interference. We will also be adding an all terrain vehicle course for our defenders and a shoot house to practice active-shooter-response training. The obstacle course outside the south restricted area fence will also be renovated. It fell into disrepair during an obstacle course training moratorium but the moratorium has been lifted. The fire fighters received some new fire training simulators and we fenced their training area to improve safety.
What will hopefully be the pinnacle event this year, will be the dedication of our 9/11 Memorial. 50th Civil Engineer Squadron is close to concluding the design, after which we will award a contract to construct the memorial at the corner of Enoch Road and Falcon Parkway next to the Security Forces building. The memorial will provide the proper dignity and respect for the steel beam from the collapsed World Trade Center, and create a location where we can remember the events of that day.
We will do our best to minimize the impact to base personnel during all of these projects. So please bear with us as we improve the base, and welcome in the new for 2011.