Housing revitalization is at top of Atsugi director's checklist
It took budget creativity, new programs and better communication with the community to earn Marnie Goodson an award for the best midlevel housing director in the Navy — and it was just her first year on the job at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
Now, in her second year, she’s overseeing a $20 million housing revitalization at the base.
Over the next four years, 114 multifamily housing units will be revamped, upgraded and in some cases expanded to make current two-bedroom apartments into three-bedroom apartments, Goodson said.
Goodson said the military-funded renovations will continue regardless of the outcome of bilateral transformation talks that are expected to conclude later this month. Several squadrons from Atsugi are expected to move to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni under the agreement. Although that means many families will be moving away from Atsugi, there are still enough families — 631 — living off base who are waiting for on-base housing to merit the project, she said.
The realignment plan being hammered out by U.S. and Japanese officials also is expected to relocate a helicopter unit from Iwakuni to Atsugi, which will bring some new families to the base.
“Regardless of what the talks bring, the quality of life of the families left behind must still be taken into account,” Goodson said.
Rather than work on the project one unit at a time, as people move out, she is moving a few families and creating a complex plan based on planned rotation dates that will give contractors entire four-unit town houses or garden apartment complexes to renovate all at once. Doing so will mean no one has to live next to a unit under renovation. It also saves money by streamlining the work into one location.
Goodson used her experience working with five previous housing commands, mostly in San Diego, to guide the renovations. Working with flag officer housing in California, for example, taught her that light-colored carpet is a bad idea. Flag officers often need to entertain at home, she said, and pale carpet is asking for trouble.
The renovations at Atsugi include wood cabinets to replace Formica ones, better flooring and walls, and easier-to-clean kitchens and bathrooms, she said.
The new units also will have individually controlled heat, so families won’t have to wait for a basewide heating season to start before they can use their heaters.
Goodson’s award salutes her dedication to quality of life as well as a number of programs she implemented last year. One allows families who have lived in military housing before to do their own pre-inspection checklists before moving in. That frees her inspectors to do other things, like helping residents.
Another program helped change the perception of inspectors as “yard police” — ready to cite every unmowed blade of grass or dropped toy — to neighborhood helpers who do safety patrols and keep an eye out when families are away, she said.
Goodson implemented a Commander, Naval Forces Japan policy that hadn’t been enforced at Atsugi that provides a bedroom per child, making some families eligible for bigger housing. And she cross-trained counselors to help with on- or off-base housing. New families previously had to meet with two counselors to learn about the two options.