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Troops, families face year-long base commissary closure in South Korea

The commissary on Camp Carroll, South Korea, is expected shut down for a year-long renovation on June 4, 2014. The current commissary structure is an aging, decades-old Quonset hut.

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The Camp Carroll commissary is scheduled to close soon for almost a year for a major renovation, leaving the 2,500 troops and family members at Camp Carroll to face at least an hour-long round trip to the nearest base for food and supplies.

“In the short term we all recognize that the temporary closure of the Camp Carroll Commissary presents our Camp Carroll Army community with some temporary inconveniences,” Col. Jim M. Bradford, U.S. Army Garrison Daegu commander, said in a statement to Stars and Stripes. “However, we are doing our best to lessen the impact.”

The commissary is in a decades-old Quonset hut. The renovation would repair the roof, replace the outdated air conditioning, electrical and fire protection systems, and add a new colorful décor package, said Nancy O’Nell, a Defense Commissary Agency spokeswoman.

“The Defense Commissary Agency took over operation of the commissary building from the Army Troop Support Agency in 1991,” she said. “Based on a review of equipment property records, the facility had likely been used as a commissary since the mid-80s.”

If the construction project is awarded as planned, the commissary will close June 4 and reopen 10 to 11 months later, O’Nell said.

Camp Carroll is north of Daegu, while Camp Walker — site of the nearest commissary — lies at the southern end of the city.

“Obviously there is the inconvenience of having to travel to Camp Walker to shop, which is usually a 30-45 minute drive each way; it will be a challenge especially for frozen and chilled goods,” said Philip Molter, a U.S. Army Garrison Daegu spokesman.

Weekend bus service has been offered for troops and their families.

“Tentatively, our plan is for the bus to depart Camp Carroll at 10:30 a.m., wait at the Camp Walker commissary for 90 minutes, then return to Camp Carroll,” Molter said. “We remain open to the possibility of running a bus during the week, say on Tuesday or Wednesday, as well.”

Limited alternative space at Camp Carroll was the central reason for the commissary’s temporary closure.

“We simply do not have the space to build a new facility while the old facility remains open,” Molter said. “We are forced to close in some cases while we renovate or modernize a facility.”

Sabrina Kaye Bell, a dependent whose husband is stationed at Camp Carroll, said it would be difficult to take the lengthy roundtrip between bases.

“I find it absurd that I have to put my squirming, yelling toddler on a bus for an hour or more and then lug bags to a bus afterward. It would take me 30 minutes to lug my stuff and my kid on one hip back and forth off the bus,” Bell said.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 14 at the Camp Carroll Community Activities Center to allow soldiers and families to express their concerns.

limon.armando@stripes.com

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