Demolition, New Housing at Area Bases - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/29/04

Demolition, New Housing at Area Bases

For years, many soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield have lived in substandard housing. Many of the homes were built for temporary use back in the '50s and were never updated. Now that's all changing. This afternoon, bulldozers moved in and started to clear away those old structures that were no longer fit to live in. Now new homes will be built in their places.

It's the end of an era that hasn't suited the modern-day solider for years. "All you have to do is look at the older housing here, and I think it's in some ways a national disgrace," said Mayor Tom Ratcliffe of Hinesville.

The inadequate housing is finally being torn down so the quality of life for the soldiers who risk their lives to defend our country can improve and have a respectable place to call home.

"This is all about building quality housing for America's soldiers, the people that go out and fight for America," said Col John Kidd. "We think that they should have the same benefits of housing that the people they defend."

It's a necessity that's been long overdue at both bases. City officials are hoping the new construction is a sign that both Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield will be safe from the next round of base closings.

"Fort Stewart activities are in the center of our national defense and certainly in the center of the mission of the United States Army," said Ratcliffe. "To the extent that that's the case, then one has to feel that we're performing a necessary and vital function in that defense."

While the future housing situation continues to look promising for the soldiers who plan on living at these two bases, whether or not they'll actually get the chance to move in is still in question.

If all goes as planned, more than 750 new homes will be built at Fort Stewart and more than 150 at Hunter Army Airfield. Some of the construction should be completed as early as November.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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