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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Workers at Camp Humphreys in South Korea have begun building a new child development center that will accommodate more than 300 youngsters.

The $6.5 million, one-story center is set for completion in July 2007. It will provide care to children in the 6-weeks to kindergarten range.

Crews began digging at the site in February.

The center is another step in Camp Humphreys’ transition toward becoming the U.S. military’s main installation in South Korea by 2008 and one that will be “family-friendly,” officials said.

In November, Camp Humphreys opened its first child development center to provide full- and part-day care for up to 50 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. But post officials have seen that center as having just an “interim role,” tiding over the post’s child population until the much bigger center is completed.

“As the installation grows, we expect that more families with children will be here,” said spokeswoman Susan Barkley of the Area III Support Activity at Camp Humphreys. “Therefore, we have to have the child care available.

“This is another one of the projects that represents a shift from Humphreys being considered an unaccompanied location to working towards becoming a family-friendly installation,” she said.

The new center will be directly across the street from the interim center, which is in Building 1127, near the Quarry Gate in the post’s western sector. To be decided later is how to use Building 1127 after the permanent child-care center opens, according to post officials.

The permanent center will encompass 23,600 square feet and accommodate up to 303 children, said Greg Reiff, resident engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Pyeongtaek resident office at Camp Humphreys.

It will have staff and administrative offices, a kitchen for preparing snacks, two-way intercoms and closed-circuit TV and a variety of special-purpose activity rooms that can be used for music, play and as learning centers. It also will have Korean-style under-the-floor heating, Reiff said.

Outside will be parking areas with a total of about 70 spaces and play areas with tricycle tracks and other playground items.

The Samil Enterprise Company Ltd. of Seoul is doing the work under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Workers already have razed four old Quonset huts and two one-story administrative buildings to clear land for the new center, Reiff said.

U.S. Forces Korea is aiming to quadruple Camp Humphreys’ size by 2008. Its population is expected to grow from more than 11,000 to about 45,000.

Accordingly, numerous construction projects are under way. They include fitness centers, barracks, family housing complexes and the child-care center as well as military headquarters, dining halls and related structures and an aquatics park.

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