By 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Col. Patrick Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing and installation commander, hosted Little Rock Air Force Base’s third Facebook town hall July 22 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Dozens of Team Little Rock community members attended the event, addressing issues on the topic of construction and base infrastructure. Questions were answered by the base commander as well as leaders from the civil engineer squadron, security forces and the force support squadron.
The commander opened the event with some remarks regarding recent activities on the installation and the format of the town hall.
“The base is undergoing several construction projects this summer to update our infrastructure and enhance our quality of life,” said Rhatigan. “With this much going on, there will undoubtedly be some delays and short-term inconveniences. But these modernization projects will posture Little Rock AFB for the future and ensure we can continue to answer our Nation’s call.”
A dozen questions were posted, and base leaders answered most, if not all, concerns during the one-hour event. Questions that were not answered were staffed and addressed within three business days. Here are the questions and answers from the event:
Q1: Issue – Base pool closure timeline
A1: I was also upset to learn that the pool was damaged.
We discovered that the lining had multiple tears and that the support piping has multiple leaks that occurred due to the particularly harsh winter and the age of the system. The pool is actually part of the original construction of the base. It was built in 1957, and its foundation has never been upgraded. At this time it is closed because the severity of damage will take some considerable funding to upgrade.
With an uncertain budget environment, we are targeting what funding we do have to complete critical projects and updates. Our construction and infrastructure modernization projects are posturing our base for the mission and the future.
The base pool supported more than 6,000 people last summer, so we understand this impacts many families. However, we have spoken to many community pools that offer comparable pricing and even military discounts. This includes the Jacksonville Community Center, Splash Zone for Kids, Cabot Public Pool and Sherwood Public Pools. Additionally, Outdoor Recreation at (501) 987-3365, even offers a FREE shuttle to Jacksonville. Thank you for your patience as we work to provide the best service and facilities to our Airmen and families.
Stay tuned for other summer activities and trips by checking www.rockinattherock.com and the 19th Force Support Squadron Facebook page.
Q2: Issue – Construction impact on water quality
A2: Water quality is important to me and it just so happens that the 19th Medical Group along with the Arkansas Department of Health released the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report earlier this month. It can be found here http://www.littlerock.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123416661. Bottom line, our base water is safe to drink!
We do not anticipate construction having any effect on the water quality on base. In recent years, we replaced the majority of our drinking water distribution system. According to my Civil Engineer experts, prior to being placed into service, any new/replacement connections are isolated before connecting to the existing water system, charged with chlorinated water, tested for safety and flushed in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. In addition, our construction contractors comply with local, state, and federal regulations regarding the protection of our storm water which feeds local streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes through permitting, plan implementation, and plan enforcement.
Q3: Issue – Timeline for water and electric upgrades
A3: Water Upgrades - There are no water projects currently in progress, however the government is in negotiations with a local water company for future recapitalization. We have an upgrade project for the main base area forecasted for Fall 2014, but it is still pending funding; no water projects are forecasted for Privatized Housing.
Sewer Upgrades - We do have an ongoing sewer upgrade project in Privatized Housing (Ridgecrest Estates) that replaces the sewer mains; it is currently 60 percent complete. We have a major sewer upgrade project for the main base area forecasted for this fall but it is still pending funding; no additional sewer projects are forecasted for Privatized Housing this year.
Electrical Upgrades - The primary power overhead to underground conversion project is in progress. The project runs east to west along Chief Master Sgt. Williams Drive to the intersection of Arnold Drive and is scheduled to be complete in late 2015. The remaining power lines will be placed underground sometime future years as funds become available.
Q4: Issue – Funding to dorm maintenance
A4: Regarding the dorm lighting, we have some challenges with our hall lighting due to the numerous types of bulbs we must keep in stock; however, we have received the bulbs and are in the process of replacing them. Regarding bathroom lighting, these bulbs are readily available. If you need replacement bulbs, please contact your dormitory manager and he/she will provide them.
Overall, our dormitory maintenance team does a bang up job of maintaining facilities which are 1950s era, especially with the limited funds to maintain them.
Q5: Issue – Redirecting funding for pool repair to other upgrades
A5: We appreciate the question and think you bring a great perspective. As discussed in response to Question 1, we work hard to balance mission needs with the needs of Airmen. Not unexpectedly, the two often intersect. We always strive to seek the right balance and spend our taxpayers’ dollars efficiently.
Additionally, we are also looking for innovative ways to work with local community partners in both the public and private sector for projects to sustain and support our mission as well as maintain the quality of life for our Airmen and families.
We are currently working on many mission essential projects. Have you seen our video on base construction?
Q6: Issue – Runway and airfield construction & impact to mission
A6: That’s a great operational question! As of now, we still don’t have funding for the runway construction. But rest assured, if we do get it, the mission will continue! We simply can’t afford mission degradation due to any construction projects, so we will definitely have enough runway available to meet our mission and training objectives. Stay tuned!
Q7. Issue – A/C unit out in dorms since July 1
A7. Thanks for your detailed question, we appreciate your concerns. Our CE folks were made aware of the broken thermostat July 1. The building HVAC is indeed under warranty and, as a result, the contractor responded to the thermostat call.
They determined the thermostat was not a warranty issue; rather, the damage was determined to be caused by an occupant. The repairs are in progress but we don’t have a completion date. We have surplus dorm rooms available, so when we encounter rooms with issues, we offer occupants alternate accommodations as an interim solution. This was the case with all occupants impacted by this broken thermostat. I hope that helps your son!
Q8. Issue – Renewable energy initiatives
A8. That’s a really forward thinking question; I like it! We are pursuing renewable energy initiatives on Little Rock AFB despite the fact that we are not in an optimal location to harness all renewable sources. For example, wind energy is not a viable solution for Little Rock AFB because wind velocity and space for turbines are insufficient. However, we are currently operating our base giant voice system using solar panels. In addition, we have a project postured for potential funding at the end of the fiscal year that will provide solar panels on our Fitness Center roof to supplement its power requirements. We are in a good location to take advantage of geo-thermal energy and are pursuing an innovative project in the next few years as a means to heat and cool our dormitories. We are always looking for Airman’s ideas. Be sure to bring your initiatives to leadership!
Q9. Issue – Contact & turnaround times for CE requests
A9. Please contact your facility manager. If he or she is unable to assist you, please contact CE Customer Service at (501) 987-6553. Once they know the nature of the issue, our CE Customer Service Desk can provide you with a specific timeline to resolve your issue.
Q10. Issue – Plans to fix intersection of Vandenberg and Thomas Avenue
A10. Our base construction is being prioritized by the worst, high traffic areas first, such as base entrances. We do not currently have a project for this intersection, but we will have our Traffic Safety Working Group investigate further to determine if this is where we need to focus our efforts.
Q11. Issue – Innovative construction initiatives
A11. Thanks for the thought-provoking question. Winston Churchill once said, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money. Now we have to think!” Some ways we are saving money include the energy initiatives I discussed in a previous post as well as integrated energy management control systems to remotely operate our air conditioning and heating systems to maximize energy efficiency. You’re absolutely right in this era of constrained resources; we must be innovative and make every dollar count to support our important mission and the Airmen doing the mission. With those objectives in mind, we have recently established a Cost Efficiency Council to brainstorm creative, cost-saving ideas. One of the initiatives we are exploring is Public-Public/Public-Private (P4) partnerships to provide potential funding avenues to support our community facilities and programs. Conference centers and community pools are two such examples of potential P4 initiatives.
Q12. Issue – Base access issue/question from May 20 town hall
A12. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the requirements for installation access. Your identification card is not a common one at Little Rock AFB. We have reviewed our Air Force Instruction pertaining to base access and have found that your level of authorization does not permit access to DoD Installations unescorted. The DoD Instruction authorizes Exchange privileges for U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. So how can you get to the exchange if you can’t get on base? Easy! Have someone with installation access privilege who can sponsor you onto the installation.
For full questions visit www.littlerock.af.mil.