By Amber Martin | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, opened the quarterly housing town hall with updated COVID-19 conditions and guidance. He also stressed the importance of feedback from all Fort Carson Soldiers and Family members, in particular housing residents as we continue to improve housing conditions.
Last December 2020, Col. Nate Springer, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, asked Fort Carson residents to complete the 2020 Army Housing Resident Satisfaction Survey to gain perspective and feedback on resident issues, concerns and recommendations for housing.
The May 12, 2021, Facebook live housing town hall addressed several subjects that came out of the survey.
“When I looked at the survey, I got three themes,” said Springer. “The first theme was the time that it takes to get maintenance work orders complete … the second one is just responsiveness … the third one was grounds maintenance, whether that’s backyards, trash or lawn care.”
Fort Carson Family Homes (FCFH) implemented several new communication platforms this year to address responsiveness and work orders. Aymesha Melendez, community manager, FCFH, said some of the new platforms include the maintenance call center – a 24/7 response call center where residents can speak with a live work order agent; and key texting, which doesn’t allow FCFH staff to close out a work order without a “yes” from the resident showing they are satisfied with the work.
“Fort Carson Family Homes is dedicated to … making sure that we’re following up with you,” said Melendez. “Your feedback is very important to us, our project and what we do here on Fort Carson. We have a lot of work to do, but we are excited to see where we go this year and the things that we have in place.”
Several subject matter experts, including FCFH, staff from the Directorate of Public Works (DPW), 4th Infantry Division leadership and staff from the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) were available during the town hall to address concerns and share insight into what leadership and FCFH staff have been working on.
The Community Life Program (CLP) is an important project Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus W. Brister II, senior enlisted adviser, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, is invigorating to help ensure there is better communication and response time between residents and leadership. The program provides each housing village with an advocate from a unit sponsoring a neighborhood.
Clint Reiss, housing Division chief, DPW, shared areas emphasized by CLP advisers and touched on landscaping, trash cans and traffic violations as specific residents’ concerns. Advisers also communicated to leadership what residents would like to see sustained.
“Some of the things that (residents) are happy with is the increased police presence in your neighborhood,” Reiss said. “We will try and sustain that.”
Part of residents’ landscaping concerns included pet waste removal. Both Melendez and Reiss touched on this, with Melendez stating that residents should report violators who are not picking up their pet’s waste and that FCFH staff will be handing out citations to residents who don’t comply.
Reiss reminded residents that the DPW housing office is an advocate for dispute resolution, and he shared the steps residents can take to resolve disputes. He said the resolution process begins with FCFH and he provided Balfour Beatty’s national office contact information as a next step. The Army housing office is the third step, and the commanding general (CG) hotline is the final step.
“We can guarantee you with our relationship and partnership we’ve built with Fort Carson Family Homes we can get your problem resolved,” Reiss said.
The importance of communication was a consistent topic during the housing town hall. Brister addressed a resident’s concern about being unable to receive mulch from the self-help center at FCFH. Brister said he would guarantee that communication is shared to the “lowest level” ensuring residents can receive mulch from the self-help center.
“Our self-help center down at Fort Carson Family Homes is wide open for business right now,” Brister said. “They have mulch, rock and most of the standard items we need for one-for-one swaps. We ask that you guys go down there and start picking up your stuff so you can start getting your yard squared away.”
Another question that came up was why grills cannot be stored on the front porch of housing units. Melendez said FCFH prefers grills are stored in the backyard for safety and aesthetics; but Springer followed up with guidance from Robert Fisher, fire chief, DES.
“We do have a policy to not have grills on the front porch,” Fisher said. “A lot of our front porches — while they’re covered — they’re very tight spaces and it is a fire hazard to be grilling on the front porch. It’s safer in the backyard, you have more space. It’s not a Fort Carson Family Homes policy, it’s a garrison policy.”
As the season is continuing to transition to warmer summer months, Springer and Melendez said five new playgrounds are scheduled to be built this summer in Pawnee Village, Shoshoni Village, Choctaw Village and Apache Village. Springer said updating these playgrounds was based on feedback from the Tenant Satisfaction Survey.
“We really are interested in your comments and your feedback,” Brister said. “We view it as every individual out here on Fort Carson is a sensor to help us see ourselves and understand where we have our problems. Really what we’re looking for is our seams and our gaps.”
The survey had about 5% more responsiveness from residents this year than the previous one, according to Springer. Feedback from residents allows leadership to see what the specific concerns are and allocate funds and programs to resolving those issues.
Throughout the town hall, Springer shared several platforms available to residents who feel their concerns are not being taken care of to their satisfaction, including the FCFH Facebook page, Fort Carson Facebook page, 4th Infantry Division Facebook page, CG hotline and the Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) system.
“I’d ask you to get your voice out there,” Springer said. “It was loud and clear, we understand the issues, and (we are) working with Fort Carson Family Homes. We are one team in this thing. We’ll get these issues fixed and get housing, this community and Fort Carson, ‘Mayberry,’ to where it needs to be.”