MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Parking spaces are disappearing from Misawa’s tower apartments in the name of force protection.

About $2.1 million from Pacific Air Forces is funding a project to build “force protection” walls around the base’s 13 towers to keep vehicles carrying explosives at a distance, base officials said.

“It’s to implement current anti-terrorism force protection requirements,” said Maj. Monte Harner, engineering flight commander, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron.

The walls vary in height — in some cases more than 30 inches tall — and are made of hollow brown cinder blocks filled with drainage rocks. Landscaping around the towers is being raised to the height of the walls, the tops of which are covered with dirt and grass.

The new lawns cut into the parking lot. “In some areas we did lose some parking,” Harner said.

Civil engineering officials did not say how many parking spaces will be lost but Harner said, “There is not enough parking for the current standard, which is two vehicles per person.”

As a temporary solution, people may park in the streets, he said.

The project started in October; all towers should have the walls installed by December 2004, said Louis Torres, chief of contract element for the 35th Civil Engineering Squadron.

Also part of the project are removable bollards that block vehicles from driving up to and underneath the towers.

The average personal vehicle no longer can be driven under the towers for deliveries, Harner said.

Officials hope to remedy the tower parking shortage as soon as funding becomes available, he said.

“We have additional projects planned to replace parking, though they’re currently unfunded,” he said.

The major did have good news, however, for main base housing residents. The base last month was awarded $84,000 to provide additional guest parking; currently, each house on main base is assigned two parking spots.

“One common complaint that we have is there’s never enough guest parking,’ Harner said.

More parking spaces will be added to each cul de sac area, though the exact number of new spots still is being worked out, Torres said.

The project could start as early as July.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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