Base housing residents to be relocated as privitazation efforts force moves

ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- In a town hall meeting Tuesday, base housing officials said Pine Oak and Crestview residents will be receiving notices in the next week notifying them to find other accommodations so that demolition of 137 units can begin.

Anyone asked to vacate their home are required to receive a minimum of 30 days notice, but officials said twice the minimum should be given.

"Our goal is to provide residents with a minimum of 60 days notice," Lt. Col. Steven Keller, commander of the 778th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Ms. Lana Reaves, chief of the 778th CES Housing Flight, said they are willing to work with families on a case by case basis, such as those retiring, deployed or undergoing a permanent change of station in or around the time frame or those with other special needs or circumstances.

Demolition has already begun on 22 unoccupied houses in the Crestview and Lakeview housing areas. The demolition for those homes began in December 2006 after a contract was awarded in September 2006. Demolition on the remainder homes can begin once a contract for demolition is awarded. This contract is expected to be awarded in March and demolition is expected to begin shortly after.

"If you live in areas that are slotted for the 137 houses for demolition, you will be eligible for a government funded move," he said.

For those hoping to stay on base, there will be a priority list generated by the housing office based on bedroom composition, date of rank and grade of the active-duty service member.

Phase two of privatization
The purpose of privatizing Robins is to provide quality affordable housing to Airmen and many of the homes on base do not meet the Air Force standards, Colonel Keller said.

Because the houses at Robins do not meet Air Force standards, the Air Force has decided to privatize housing areas to provide adequate housing quickly and cost effectively.

The Housing Requirement Market Analysis requires that Robins housing be reduced from the existing 1,477 units in both base and privatized housing areas to 577 units by 2011. Robins is using a two-phased approach to privatization. The first phase affected off base housing areas and was completed in 2000.

Officials announced at the town hall meeting the plans and tentative timeline for phase two of the Robins privatization efforts.

The housing office is anticipating a phase two contract to be awarded and executed the summer of 2007. Once a contract for that project is awarded, a more specific schedule and other pertinent information will be provided through another town hall meeting, Colonel Keller said.

The second phase of the privatization project began in December and will result in the demolition of 600 houses on base. The areas on base slotted for demolition include all housing areas except Turner Park and Chief's Circle. Chief's Circle, which has already been cleared of residents, will be turned into administrative buildings. Turner Park will be retained after the privatization but all two-bedroom houses in the housing area are proposed to undergo major renovations and be converted to four-bedroom units.

When the second stage of privatization begins, residents in base housing will be offered a lease agreement with the project owner. If the resident declines the lease, the move to off-base accommodations would be at a personal expense, Colonel Keller said.

For those who accept and continue to live on base, their entire basic allowance for housing will cover their rent and utilities until utility meters can be installed. Once meters are installed in base houses, the rental rate will be BAH minus the utility allowance, which is 110 percent of the average usage in that type of home.

All residents of two-bedroom units may be asked to move out as part of the transition to privatization, Colonel Keller said. All existing three- and four-bedroom units will undergo exterior renovations, but will be able to house residents during the conversion to privatization.

He added that residents moved at the direction of the government will also receive a relocation allowance if the resident chooses to relocate off base; however, this does not apply to residents who choose to relocate to Huntington Village.

Once the demolition of houses is complete, a new housing area with 76 units will be constructed by the selected offer. Most newly constructed units on base will be for key and essential personnel.

There will be a "waterfall method" in place, allowing the contractor to rent the privatized units out to other members of base personnel when housing occupancy rates are low. First priority for both phase one and two will be given to active-duty members, followed by federal civil service, retired military members, guard and reserve members, retired civil service members and Department of Defense contractors.

Currently, civilians with base access will continue to be considered as possible residents in Huntington Hills, a Huntington Village housing area, if no one from another group from the waterfall applies. The 300 houses in Huntington Hills will be divested as part of phase two. Therefore, whether or not the houses will be demolished in Huntington Hills will be left up to the contractor.

In other issues addressed in the meeting, Robins elementary officials said no discussion has taken place regarding the future of the school.

"There has been no discussion of our school closing as a DOD school," said Dell McMullen, superintendent of Georgia DOD schools.