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Construction booming at Vicenza

VICENZA, Italy — By the time soldiers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team return from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, there will be several significant additions to their home base.

Two new schools, a child development center and a consolidated medical clinic are all on schedule to open by next fall, according to base officials. There will also be new places to work out in the fitness center and a revamped base pool to swim in.

More than $465 million has been invested in about a half-dozen projects that are under way or recently completed.

The largest of them — barracks, offices and support buildings for “Sky Soldiers” at the Dal Molin airfield — is set to take the longest to complete. Troops will probably deploy again before the facilities are ready in fall 2012.

“Work is progressing rapidly,” said Kambiz Razzaghi, director of the Transformation Construction Management Office, which is overseeing most of the construction in Vicenza. Crews are working on multiple floors of three of the largest buildings — a barracks, the brigade headquarters and a multipurpose building. About 30 other structures will be built as part of the project that’s worth about $375 million.

When the facilities are completed, thousands of troops currently based in Schweinfurt and Bamberg, Germany, will make the move to Vicenza.

By then, new schools for many of their children will already be open. C.M.C. of Ravenna, one of two Italian firms involved in the joint venture at Dal Molin, is constructing elementary and middle schools as well as a child development center in the Villagio housing complex.

Francesco De Simoni, the company’s project coordinator, said all exterior work has been completed on both schools and the child development center. More than 180 workers — many of them subcontracted from the local area — are now concentrating on the interiors. De Simoni said weather won’t be a factor and predicted the company would turn over the buildings by early summer. That would allow Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials a few months to get furniture, supplies and equipment in place before the new school year.

The elementary school, designed to accommodate as many as 1,050 students, and the middle school, with a capacity of 250, will replace current facilities on Caserma Ederle. That will leave only the high school at its current site, though there are plans to build a new one on Villagio as well. The U.S. is paying more than $52 million for the new schools and the child development center.

The price tag isn’t quite as high for the consolidated medical facility on Ederle. The 141,000-square-foot facility will cost about $35 million. It will house a medical clinic, dental clinic, birthing center and behavior health offices.

“This is more of a super clinic,” said Frank Varano, project manager. “It’s not a hospital.”

Similar to the schools, the facility is set to be finished in the summer, though most facilities won’t be operational until fall.

The community will have a new pool by then. Work is under way on a glass exterior — with some retractable roofing — that will allow for year-round swimming. The former pool was built more than four decades ago and has been refurbished. Not far away, work at the fitness center includes the renovation of 14,000 square feet of existing facilities and 6,000 additional feet of space. The two projects cost about $4.3 million and are set to open in January.

A $13.6 million addition to the Ederle Inn was recently completed. The project added 58 rooms to the on-base hotel, giving it a total of 133.


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