ROSE BARRACKS, Germany — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District and U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria are partnering to deliver new and newly renovated housing and other quality of life projects for Soldiers and their families stationed at Rose Barracks in Vilseck.
The latest major milestone in this long-term effort is the delivery of 29 new family homes and the recent completion of 14 family home renovations in the Kittenberg Housing Area here at Rose Barracks. Soldiers and their families will start moving into these newly available homes this summer.
“The Army is committed to making high quality housing available to Soldiers and their families, especially overseas, and the Europe District is proud to deliver on that commitment,” said Europe District Commander Col. Pat Dagon. “Specifically At Rose Barracks in Vilseck, we’re working closely with the garrison to build new family housing and significantly upgrade existing housing to ensure there is enough high quality housing to meet the installation’s needs and ensure Soldiers, as well as their families, are taken care of.”
The multiple housing projects being delivered at Rose Barracks are part of a larger collaboration between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Directorate of Public Works.
“U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria has put emphasis on new housing and housing renovations on Rose Barracks, Vilseck to provide our families with modernized living conditions as most of our existing facilities were built in the mid 80’s to early 90’s.” said Supervisory Housing Management Specialist Trenton Brockington in USAG Bavaria’s Directorate of Public Works. “The impact on the families is incredible as they will live in new or newly renovated townhomes. They form a new sense of appreciation when they know the standards for living are high in Bavaria.”
Delivery of additional new homes and renovating the existing housing stock is particularly important to Rose Barracks, where a 2015 Housing Requirements Market Analysis identified family housing deficit on post. Additionally, there are not any large population centers or cities around Vilseck like other installations in Germany like U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart or U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, so off-post housing options aren’t as abundant. So the new homes and renovation efforts are intended to increase the available high quality housing available to service members stationed as Rose Barracks and their families while also reducing reliance on the relatively small stock of off-post housing not controlled by the installation.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Phil Gardner has been involved in delivering family housing projects at Rose Barracks for the past 2 years and said he understands how important the availability of high quality housing is for personnel and their families, especially overseas.
“I myself have young children who accompanied me to Germany so I understand the difficulty moving with a family to a foreign country where everything is unfamiliar and new, especially for our kids,” Gardner said. “Building homes and a community that feels familiar and secure despite the foreign surroundings is critical to the welfare and morale of the Army community. It promotes family wellbeing which is so important for our mission here in Europe.”
The 29 new family homes are the second of three phases of new home construction planned for Rose Barracks. This batch of homes are meant for junior non-commissioned officers and their families and are a mix of 3- and 4-bedroom homes. The new homes feature both American and German touches, including having both American and German outlets. The houses incorporate German touches like European-style windows and doors and locally sourced material like in the tile roof and they are also designed to be energy efficient.
The homes meet all standard Army family housing criteria, but also comply with German requirements as well, which can be tricky.
“These projects are extremely complicated and require adjustments to conform to not only U.S. requirements but also German construction requirements,” Gardner said. “Though the coordination between differing building codes may be difficult, I take pride in the uniqueness of the outcomes and application of the most stringent requirements from both nations ensuring the safety of our families.”
Delivering these homes involves more than just constructing individual homes, but also involves developing associated infrastructure like drainage, utilities and roads to build essentially entire new neighborhood for Soldiers and their families.
This second phase of new home construction also included the installation of a new playground and outdoor pavilion and community gathering spot that connects these new homes with the nearby 20 new family homes in the Kittenberg Housing Area delivered in 2016 as part of the first phase of new home construction.
The third phase is expected to involve the delivery of up to 36 additional family housing units, with site preparation already underway and construction starting as soon as this winter.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also working with the garrison to renovate much of the existing family housing stock on the installation as part of the larger vision of making additional high quality housing available to Soldiers and their families assigned to Rose Barracks. The 14 recently renovated homes are the latest in an ongoing effort that has seen 42 total homes significantly renovated in recent years.
Brockington said the renovations involve significant upgrades, including improvements to electrical lines, sewage and water lines and heating systems. Newly renovated homes are also made more energy efficient, with new energy efficient rated windows and doors, energy efficient appliances, improved ventilation and water saving tanks in the bathrooms.
Design work is underway for the renovation of an additional 27 or more family homes at Vilseck as part of this continuing effort, with construction expected to start next year.
Quality of life for families is about more than just housing and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with the garrison on additional projects geared toward Soldiers and their families, particularly their children.
“We’re doing a lot of community work here in Vilseck, and those are always the nice things to able to do because people and their families are always very appreciative,” said Project Engineer John Taylor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Grafenwoehr Resident Office, which manages construction at nearby Rose Barracks as well. “Also, these kind of projects help the Soldiers by helping their families and improving overall quality of life.”
Work is wrapping up to install three new playgrounds at Vilseck Elementary School to replace existing dated playground structures. Two of the three new and innovative replacement playgrounds have just opened to students with features geared toward different ages with the third on the way. The Vilseck Elementary School work also included building storage for additional outdoor play equipment to ensure even more options for students to be engaged outdoors.
“The students are able to see the new playgrounds, including one that is designed to look like a pirate ship they can climb on and explore, and the staff is excited and they’ve told us the kids are really excited,” Taylor said just a few days before the new playgrounds were opened to students. “We’re happy to be able to turn these over to the customer, the school, and do this kind of work for the kids.”
Another new residential area playground is nearly complete in the Langenbruck Housing Area.
At Vilseck High School, a new field house is being constructed near the athletics field that will not only serve as an area to store athletics equipment but is being designed as a focal point for social activities. Its design includes features inside and outside that will facilitate serving large groups and hosting large outdoor gatherings.
Looking forward, designs are nearly complete for a full renovation of one of Vilseck’s community centers, which will be geared toward younger teens and other children of service members. Once complete, some of the features for the youth at Rose Barracks are expected to include a hobby and art room, a technology lab and homework center, a kitchen and dining room and a large multi-purpose activity room for clubs and other extra-curricular type activities. A contract award for construction on the youth center renovation is expected either later this year or early next year.