Construction workers bow before a pig’s head, a traditional Korean good luck ceremony, at the groundbreaking of the Camp Carroll Lodge.

Construction workers bow before a pig’s head, a traditional Korean good luck ceremony, at the groundbreaking of the Camp Carroll Lodge. (Ohn Sang-joon / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Workers are set to start building a 50-room hotel to house transient or vacationing servicemembers at the Army’s Camp Carroll in Waegwan, South Korea.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday; construction is to begin sometime next week on the $10.5 million Camp Carroll Lodge, which is to open in May 2006, officials said.

“There’s construction equipment on the ground right now, the ground has been flattened and the white lines have been drawn out for the foundation, so that’s where we’ll start digging,” said Carl Ragonese, Army Lodging manager with the Installation Management Agency-Korea Region Office.

Plans call for a five-story, 43,700-foot structure with 42 standard rooms and eight “extended stay” suites.

All rooms are to have amenities including televisions, microwave ovens and refrigerators. Each standard room will measure 299 square feet; each suite will measure 450 square feet.

Camp Carroll is the 570-acre logistics base and headquarters of the U.S. Army Materiel Support Center-Korea. Some 1,510 active duty U.S. troops, Defense Department civilians and contractors work there.

The new lodge will let Camp Carroll house more transient servicemembers — those changing duty stations or on temporary duty — than the current 16-room lodge.

Compounding the base’s transient lodging problems, said Wilfred Plumley, Camp Carroll installation manager, is that Waegwan area motels offer few “quality” options.

“We have very limited, older building facilities out here on post,” he said. “Waegwan is not geared to support travelers. Not that many quality motels, probably one or two. Many people stay in Taegu.”

In Taegu, South Korea’s third-largest city, the Army has lodging facilities at camps Walker and Henry.

Last week, for example, Camp Carroll hosted the 8th Army table tennis championship, Plumley said. All 25 competitors had to be bused south to Taegu, where they stayed at Camp Henry’s Army lodge, he said. “Then they had to be bused back and forth.”

The new lodge also will increase troops’ safety and benefit their morale, Ragonese said: “It gives a certain amount of force protection having the soldiers on base … reduces the culture shock and gives them a good sense of well-being and familiarity. It’s soldiers taking care of soldiers.”

Officials said they’ve yet to decide whether to use the existing lodge as a lodge annex once the new one opens, or convert it to other uses. Built in the early 1980s, it served as a barracks until renovated as a lodge about three years ago, Ragonese said.

The Byucksan Engineering and Construction Company is to perform the work under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The new lodge project marks the latest in ongoing quality-of-life upgrades at Camp Carroll.

This summer, base officials opened a $1.9 million Child Development Center. The base also recently opened a new, modern gym and senior enlisted quarters and made major electrical system upgrades. Additional barracks projects are under way; the base plans a new 12-lane bowling center “sometime within the next year,” Plumley said.

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