Into the future: A transformation in progress

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kali L. Gradishar
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
If one of today's Spangdahlem Air Base Airmen came back to the Eifel a mere six years from now, the Airman would certainly be surprised at the changes to the base. With base-wide construction projects on the move, ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies will speckle the base calendar in the near future.

While the entire transformation project will benefit Sabers, it also benefits the local economy.

"The work is done by German contractors - some from across Europe and some from the local area," said Udo Stuermer, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron programs flight chief. "This benefits the entire local economy because a majority of the contractors come from within a circle of 50 kilometers around the base."

Overseeing the contracting, designing and building endeavor is the Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, which manages, facilitates and directs projects on base from beginning to end.

"Our role is to manage the oversight of construction and we are also involved in the design of some projects," said Justin Ward, ACE public affairs chief. "We work with Spangdahlem to form a team to ensure everyone is on the same page before awarding the contract to a company.

"Once the contract is awarded, we are in charge of the construction scheduling and building before the final product is handed over to the customer. We act as the middle man between the customer (Spangdahlem AB) and the contractor," he added, "because we speak the language of construction and, more often than not, the customer doesn't. We make sure the customer gets what they're looking for."

Spangdahlem's more than 1,600 acres are currently dotted in ACE-supported construction sites to include the building of a new medical center and housing units, and much more is in store.

"Most of the construction is happening in the northern part of the base," Mr. Stuermer said. "There will be a total of $253 million in construction just on this northern part."

The new medical facility and housing units are already in the making. Future Sabers can also expect to see the new fitness center; elementary, middle and high schools; base exchange; commissary; and child development center, along with other projects that may pop up along the way.

More recent in the list of projects is the fitness center, and few Sabers would disagree it's time for a new one.

"This is a big need for Spangdahlem. It's the oldest in the Air Force, and you can only imagine how many people have gone through that building in more than 50 years," Mr. Stuermer noted. "It used to have a bowling alley in the basement and has gone through other changes, too.

"We have the support in 2010 of $23.5 million to build a new one. The design was just started but should be finished before construction season starts in spring or 2010," he said.

There is also the $11 million Child Development Center project set for 2011.

Because of the nature of the use of this building, "there were special considerations when discussing the design of the CDC. We had to think about having air conditioning, and light switches, outlets and radiators in certain places," Mr. Stuermer said.

As buildings rise and fall at Spangdahlem AB, other buildings at Bitburg Air Base will become less necessary to keep. Currently, the only agencies solely at Bitburg are the American Red Cross; Women, Infants and Children Overseas; Armed Forces Network and Army and Air Force Exchange Services offices and the high school.

"The hope is that 2011 will be an important milestone for Spangdahlem to give a big portion of Bitburg back to the German government because a lot of buildings here will be completed by then. And at that time, Spangdahlem should only be lacking a new high school," Mr. Stuermer said.

The completion of these projects is still approximately six years away.

"We're looking at a completion date of 2015," said Mr. Stuermer. "A lot could happen in that many years. But we have a good plan and that plan is happening now."

Editor's Note: This article is the last in a three-part series on the past, present and future of Spangdahlem AB's major construction programs.