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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The U.S. portion of the Spanish navy base in southern Spain is undergoing some $50 million in renovations and new construction, even as the base’s population has steadily declined over the past several years.

Naval Station Rota is one of five Navy bases that will remain in Europe under the service’s transformation plans. Several projects, including the recent renovation of the main administration building, were needed to upgrade the 1950s-era facility, said Tony Crusellas, director of Public Works.

The most recent projects include a two-story high school, revamped base housing units and a community support center that consolidates the universities’ offices and classrooms, Navy College Center, Fleet and Family Support Center, lawyers’ offices, Red Cross and Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.

The projects replaced aged buildings that were decaying, unsightly, too small or did not meet seismic standards in the event an earthquake struck the base, Crusellas said.

Rota currently is home to nearly 4,000 servicemembers, civilians and their families, including about 1,100 active-duty personnel. The base population dropped 15 percent — its steepest decline — between fiscal 2004 and 2005. That’s when sailors of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 2, known as VQ-2, left Spain for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., as part of the Navy’s streamlining of forces in Europe.

The new high school, which will open in the fall, replaces trailers where students had attended classes for more than a year. The base library, which recently opened, is now centrally located in a new building next to the community center and features new computers and books. A coffee shop inside the library will open in the coming weeks, said Scott Jungk, director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation. The library also is open 16 more hours a week.

Eateries such as Pizza Villa and Champions bar are closed for remodeling, and when they reopen will be classier and more family-oriented venues, Jungk said.

Additionally, contractors are in the middle of a massive project to overhaul base housing units, merging 146 duplexes into 73 single-family, four-bedroom homes. The new homes are designed so the living room and kitchen are on one side of the house, and bedrooms are on the other for added privacy, Housing Director Bob Crist said. Already, 38 duplexes were combined in phase one of the project.

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