BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Workers are moving dirt, putting up walls and clearing space for a series of renovations at the base in Baumholder, where wireless access, the coffee menu and fitness options soon will be expanded.

For starters, there’s the $700,000 Community Information Center, which will include a Starbucks-serving Java Joint cafe.

Slated to open in December, the center is being built alongside the base post office and will function as a hub offering a variety of services, according to garrison commander Lt. Col Derek R. Rountree.

Residents will be able to pick up and drop off mail, plan trips at the Sato Travel office and learn about outdoor recreational opportunities. The site also will be a wireless zone where visitors can surf the Internet while sipping a cappuccino or watch one of the plasma televisions.

“It’s a step toward improving quality of life, but more importantly it provides a central location in the community where families can meet and get the information they need during the deployment,” Rountree said.

Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division will depart for Iraq in early 2008. About 4,000 Baumholder soldiers are training in Hohenfels in preparation for the deployment. When they return from the field, the information center should be nearly complete.

The facility will include an area where Family Readiness Group information will be available and booths where families can meet and consult, Rountree said.

The two gyms at Smith Barracks — Hall of Champions and the Mountaineer Fitness Center — also are undergoing renovations that should be completed by the end of next month.

The gym projects involve about $300,000 in upgrades, including new cardio machines, weights, wall lockers, weight room flooring and flat-screen televisions.

The garrison also has been putting together a plan for a more elaborate upgrade to the Hall of Champions. But that proposal can’t go forward until Pentagon officials determine whether the Baumholder garrison will be established as an enduring community.

A Dec. 13 grand-opening ceremony is in the works, Rountree said. Initially, officials had hoped for an October opening, but problems with underground pipes caused a delay.

“There’s a lot of quality-of-life improvement projects going on in Baumholder,” Rountree said. “Things will be getting better.”

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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