By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Marne Terrace bulldozed
Military housing razed for new development
demolition 6
Demolition began Wednesday on Marne Terrace enlisted family housing at Fort Stewart. The housing development is being torn down so new units can be built on the site. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
Bulldozers are tearing through substandard family housing at Fort Stewart this week. Marne Terrace, which was the source of a multitude of complaints, is finally being demolished.
“This is a step forward for us,” said Col. Kevin Milton, garrison commander of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
“We have one common goal and that is to take care of the families,” said Christopher Curry, government division housing chief at Fort Stewart.
Military families who once lived in Marne Terrace were reassigned post housing or elected to move off post, said Elise VanPool, a spokesperson with the Public Affairs Office. Others moved out when they received new duty station orders, VanPool said.
“About 90 percent of the materials from Marne Terrace, like cement from the driveways and copper wiring, will be recycled,” she said. “Even the doors will be reused. They’ve been taken out and will be used on the range. Soldiers can practice kicking them down.”
Before the actual demolition, units had toxic materials such as asbestos removed said Bill Butler, demolition supervisor.
Milton said 98 new homes will be built on a site adjacent to Marne Terrace by 2011. Once the old Marne Terrace units are demolished, the site will be used for new housing which should be completed between 2011-2017, the colonel said.
“We have 962 renovations that are ongoing or are completed,” he added.
The demolition process was accelerated last summer after Dave Hemmingsen visited his daughter and son-in-law. The couple moved into Marne Terrace in late May. The development was reserved for enlisted soldiers and their families.
Hemmingsen said he was shocked when he saw the poor condition the units were in. He first wrote a letter to Balfour Beatty, the United Kingdom based firm the Army contracted to build, renovate and maintain post housing.
“I didn’t get a very favorable response,” Hemmingsen said.
After the Florence, S.C., resident posted photographs and listed his concerns on a group Facebook page he created, “Our Military Troops Deserve Better,” he unexpectedly became a catalyst for change.
“Overnight I had 500 members on my Facebook group page,” Hemmingsen said. He said the hits he received on Facebook showed problems with Marne Terrace were shared by many.
The Carolina man also filed a request with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office for a congressional investigation into the situation.
Hemmingsen believes if he had not spoken out the situation with Balfour Beatty would have languished even longer. He added that once he started making inquiries Milton contacted him.
“He arrived on base about the same time my kids arrived on base. It was a new venture for him also,” Hemmingsen said. “I made another visit to the base and met with Col. Milton and his staff.”
The inadvertent activist stated the planned demolition of Marne Terrace had, “been on the books for two or three years but they (Balfour Beatty) never got around to it.”
Hemmingsen believes Balfour Beatty had concentrated on building single soldier housing and was slow to focus on family housing.
“Single soldier housing is still pretty vacant,” he said.
He said Milton and Curry have remained open to his concerns and continue to be helpful in dealing with housing issues.
“If I e-mail them with an issue they immediately take care of it,” he said.
Hemmingsen said his Facebook page gave Balfour Beatty “a black eye,” but now the company has, “slowly but surely taken a different approach and has made the effort to correct the issue.”
The Carolina man claims his next cause is Eisenhower Village post housing which is about 25 years old.
“They don’t have dishwashers and they’re small; only 750-square feet. They’re not in a whole lot better shape than Marne Terrace,” he said.
Sign up for our e-newsletters