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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Major construction work and other key steps toward turning Camp Humphreys into the U.S. military’s flagship installation in South Korea will top Area III’s agenda in 2007, its commander said in a year-end interview with Stars and Stripes.

The post eventually is to become home to the bulk of U.S. forces on the peninsula, including those currently stationed in Seoul and points north, and triple in size, expanding onto 2,328 acres of adjacent land.

“That’s really our No. 1 focus,” said Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr., commander of the Army’s Area III Support Activity at Camp Humphreys, in Pyeongtaek.

Dozens of new buildings will open on post this year. And work crews will take their first steps in getting land next to the post ready for Camp Humphreys’ expansion.

South Korean authorities have said they will act early this year to remove from those lands residents who have resisted previous government efforts to move them.

A South Korean court recently ruled they remain illegally.

Most residents have accepted government relocation payments and moved.

Inside the installation, about $220 million in construction projects are set for completion this year, Taliento said.

“We’ll see dozens of new and refurbished buildings come on line to support our existing tenants,” Taliento said.

They include barracks, a dining hall, motor pools, two gyms, a high-rise Army family housing tower, child development center, a multistory parking garage, a 96-person bachelor officers’ quarters, an aquatics park, perimeter security walls, installation of a sewer line system and expansion of the existing Camp Humphreys Army Lodge.

“All emerge this year to support the existing population,” he said. “And we have another $280 million under design that will start in the upcoming year.”

Officials will continue alerting people to a variety of temporary inconveniences that could result from the high construction tempo on- and off-post, he said.

Those include unplanned power outages and traffic tie-ups, as well as an increase in noise and dust, he said.

One key, said Taliento, will be for residents to “acknowledge that we’re in a transitory period” and to accept the inconveniences.

Outside the installation, workers this month are to begin laying landfill set aside for the expansion.

“That is decidedly a milestone in creating the conditions” for the expansion to proceed, Taliento said.

Also pending is the move by the South Korean government to relocate the remaining holdouts.

Past efforts to remove the residents were met with violent protests involving anti-expansion activists who clashed with South Korean riot police.

“How it is perceived by the Korean people will be important,” Taliento said.

“I have a high degree of trust and confidence,” he said, that the government will accomplish the relocation with the “greatest degree of dignity, sensitivity,” aiming to minimize the hardship of relocation for the residents.

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