By Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.— Due to the meticulous planning and management that must be coordinated for each construction project on Peterson, it can take years from the conception of an idea to the completion of construction. Current developments on Peterson Air Force Base have been long in the making and before ground is ever broken, extensive planning must first take place.
According to William Schlepuetz, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, Chief of Engineering, the process begins when an AF Form 332 is submitted to 21st CES. The 332 can request anything from replacing a door knob to constructing a new building. Once these requests are submitted they can go two ways — to either in-house repair via the CE Operations Flight or to project construction/repair via Military Construction funding, commonly known as MILCON funding, or Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization funds.
SRM funds fall under Operations and Maintenance funding, which finance current Fiscal Year requirements such as travel, fuel, civilian salaries and training and education. SRM funds are used to repair and revitalize aging facilities and infrastructure.
According to Schlepuetz, SRM projects from all 32 wing locations are compiled into a list for approval by the Wing Facilities Board, chaired by the wing commander. The board meets three times a year to review the projects and determine priorities for the coming three fiscal years. Examples of projects using SRM or O&M funds on Peterson AFB include modifications to the Base Operations facility, the West Gate landscaping and the STARBASE Academy.
Base Operations Modifications
Work is underway to repair numerous fire safety deficiencies in Building 122, home to Base Operations, the Passenger Terminal, Wing Protocol and the Distinguished Visitors’ lounge. The building used to be home to the airport control tower and has been modified many times over the years to accommodate new functions. Unintended results of these changes were safety issues that put human life at risk if a fire were to occur. This project was funded by HQ AFSPC in September 2012 to resolve these safety issues. The most noticeable change will be a new stairway on the front of the building near the main entrance to the passenger terminal, which will provide personnel on the second floor a secondary exit from the facility.
West Gate Landscaping
The West Gate landscaping, funded in September 2012, includes removing 40 percent of the Kentucky bluegrass in the area and replacing it with low water vegetation, also known as xeriscape. This landscaping project will reduce water usage in the area by 30 percent, equating to 1.5 million gallons per year, reducing wing utility costs and working toward both Department of Defense and Colorado Springs Utilities water usage reduction goals.
Building 850 is being renovated into an education and training facility capable of supporting the STARBASE Academy. This project was funded in August 2012 as a joint venture between the 21st SW and Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. It is scheduled to be complete March 18, 2013. STARBASE Academy will provide a partnership with local public schools to promote science and technology education to students.
MILCON funds, on the other hand, provide for design and construction of new facilities for Air Force missions that exceed $750,000 in total cost.
“The funds for these (MILCON) projects are appropriated by Congress for specific fiscal years, selected and funded individually, and are managed by the Pentagon,” said Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “The funds cannot be reallocated to another project. Additionally, we are under contract with the construction companies, and they would have legal recourse if we were to try and stop construction.”
To give an idea just how far in advance project planning takes place, Schlepuetz said project requests for FY15 were originally submitted to Air Force Space Command last September. These projects are channeled through multiple approval processes at AFSPC, Headquarters Air Force, Department of Defense and Congress, and, with hope, end up on the President’s budget.
Once Congress approves the budget for a given fiscal year, the designs for approved projects can begin. The goal is to have the design completed by the first quarter of the fiscal year, so contract award can be made within the fiscal year. Depending on the size of the project, design and construction may take 12-30 months.
Two examples of recently completed MILCON-funded construction include the new Child Development Center and the Space Education and Training Center. The Rapid Attack Identification, Detection and Reporting System Space Control facility, home to the 16th Space Control Squadron, and the East Gate realignment are examples of ongoing MILCON-funded developments.
Child Development Center
Construction on the new Child Development Center at Peterson East was completed in May 2012 and was funded in 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Peterson was suffering from a shortage of space to accommodate the growing needs of dependent children. The new building increased the capacity for care by more than 150 children.
Space Education and Training Center
The Space Education and Training Center has been operational since August 2012 but was originally funded in 2010. The SETC provides advanced space education and training to multi-services and Department of Defense agencies. Prior to the construction of the building on Peterson, the SETC had been leasing a commercial facility off-base since 2003.
RAIDRS Space Control Facility
The new RAIDRS Space Control facility, awarded in June 2011, is scheduled to be complete April 1, 2013. The facility will be home to the 16th Space Control Squadron and its operations center to control various suites of transportable antennas deployed around the world. The system will be able to detect, characterize, geolocate and report sources of radio frequency interference on U.S. military and commercial satellites in direct support of combatant commanders. Upon completion, it will be the premiere defensive space control operations facility in the Air Force.
East Gate Realignment
The East Gate Realignment contract was awarded in December 2011 as a MILCON project and is scheduled to be complete mid-April 2013. Construction includes a two bay vehicle inspection facility, guardhouse, vehicle denial barriers and associated asphalt pavement, streetlights and traffic lights. The location of the gate was moved to the north to coincide with the proposed city road network in the Banning-Lewis Ranch area, and will improve safety on Marksheffel Road by allowing more room to queue vehicles away from traffic on the busy roadway.
Regardless of where the funds for new projects come from, leaders of the 21st Space Wing work diligently to ensure funds are used appropriately.
“We strive to balance mission sustainment and facility improvement during these austere times,” said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st SW commander. “We will continue to work towards making Peterson Air Force Base the best place to work, live and visit in the Air Force; however, in this fiscally-constrained environment, we will move forward in a prudent fashion.”