Garages, balconies, rolladens coming to Baumholder housing

‘Tis the fiscal season when Army Family Housing master plans are submitted to the Department of the Army for approval, and three things are at the forefront for Baumholder Military Community: garages, balconies and rolladens.

These quality-of-life improvements stem directly from resident feedback in the 2019 housing survey conducted at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz.

“These projects went in front of Congress for funding,” said Jim Gillis, Baumholder Housing deputy chief. “The design and concepts are being worked right now — if not done, they’re pretty close to being done.” Once complete, the next step is to put the package out for contracting bids.

An illustration shows the design plan for garages in Baumholder Military Community housing areas. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz submitted garage, balcony and rolladen addition projects for approval and funding in 2020. Courtesy graphic

The garage addition program is designed to provide overhead covered parking and a separate garage unit to every family living on post in Baumholder. The goal is for garages to be added at the same time a building is right-sized – which means taking a building with 24 apartments and converting it to 16 larger apartments and adding an elevator, Gillis said. This process takes about two years to complete.

“We’ll be the first in Europe Army Housing to have this garage addition program,” Gillis said. “Apartments will be bigger, and have a garage!”

At the beginning of July, 277 balcony projects for Baumholder were sent to the Army for approval and funding. Gillis said residents may see balconies go in on Smith Barracks in the near future because some previously approved projects include balcony additions, but the remaining 277 still have to go to contracting for bids and are expected tentatively by late 2022.

If an apartment doesn’t have a balcony, it’ll have a loggia — basically a balcony but inside the living room, Gillis said.

Last but not least — rolladens will be installed on windows in all apartments.

“I’m really happy to see the rolladens happen,” Gillis said. “This will make a big difference in cooling the homes in summer.”

He said rolladens became the No. 1 priority after summer 2019 when record breaking temperatures scorched Rheinland-Pfalz. Gillis said funding for rolladens is expected in 2021, which means work is expected to be completed in 2023. In the meantime, the garrison has authorized the purchase of personal air conditioning units in accordance with USAG RP Command Policy Letter No. 33.

Although the ball is rolling on improvements, it will be a couple years before residents see construction efforts due to the lengthy planning, programming, budgeting and execution process used by the Department of Defense to ensure tax dollars are spent appropriately and budgeted for. “It’s not as easy as going to Home Depot and loading up the truck,” Gillis joked.

Quality housing for Soldiers and their families continues to be the Army’s top “Quality of Life” priority, and Army leaders are committed to further improving housing conditions.

“We are absolutely committed to providing safe and secure housing on every installation, and making every installation an installation of choice for our Soldiers and families,” said Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command commander and top officer in charge of Army Family Housing.

“We appreciate your patience and understanding,” Gillis said to Baumholder residents. “Please, after you leave, plan on coming back here. You’ll be amazed at the way this place has changed.”