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Army bill jumps by $1.2 million for noise reduction at Stuttgart area range

U.S. soldiers participate in an exercise at the Panzer Range Complex in Boeblingen, Germany, April 16, 2019. The Army will pay an additional $1.2 million to cover the costs of lowering noise levels at the suburban Stuttgart firing range, where locals have long complained about the crackle of gunfire.

JASON D. JOHNSTON/U.S. ARMY

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 11, 2019

STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army has agreed to pay an additional $1.2 million to cover the costs of a project to lower noise levels at a suburban Stuttgart firing range, where frustrated locals have long complained about the crackle of gunfire.

In 2018, the Army reached a deal with town officials in Boeblingen to split the cost of the project, with the city paying up to $340,000 toward it and the garrison covering the rest.

Since then, however, the estimated cost has jumped from $800,000 to $2.3 million, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart said. The Army agreed after talks with officials in Boeblingen to absorb all of the additional expense, the garrison announced Thursday.

“The city of Boeblingen and USAG Stuttgart recently formalized the arrangement in a written agreement,” the garrison said in a statement.

The project involves erecting new noise barriers that are expected to provide better sound-proofing at the range. Work is slated to begin in the summer of 2020 and wrap up by mid-2021, the garrison said.

The garrison also has taken over as the lead of the Army’s working group on the more than decade-old noise issue, which in the past had been managed by 7th Army Training Command in Grafenwoehr.

“Reasoning behind USAREUR’s (U.S. Army Europe’s) decision to reassign the project was that the garrison is best positioned to work effectively with the local community on the resolution of the issue,” the garrison said.

The Stuttgart area is home to various elite military units that fall under the command of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe. While the firing range at garrison headquarters’ Panzer Kaserne is small and less frequently used than facilities in more rural Army outposts, the sound of gunfire nonetheless has been an irritant in neighborhoods abutting the Boeblingen facility.

The military also has agreed to scale back some of their high-intensity training in Boeblingen and conduct more drills at Army ranges in Grafenwoehr and Baumholder.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

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