MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — About half of the $1 million the base earned as the 2005 Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award winner will fund 175 new parking spaces south of Edgren High School, base officials were to announce Friday.

The lot is intended to alleviate congestion in the busy Life Plaza across from the high school, home to Potter Fitness Center, Walmsley Bowling Center, Mokuteki Community Center and Overstreet Memorial Library, said Col. Michael Bartley, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander. It will also provide parking for several nearby athletic fields, including the Air Force’s asphalt running track, officials said. Estimated cost of the parking project, to begin this fall, is about $450,000.

Another approximately $220,000 of the award will pay for new carpeting and wallpaper in the Tohoku Enlisted Club ballroom. The remainder — more than $300,000 — will be divvied up among the Potter Fitness Center, Lunney Youth Center, Overstreet Memorial Library, Mokuteki Community Center, Outdoor Recreation, the base beach, Weasel’s Den, and the arts and crafts annex for new equipment and other upgrades.

Bartley said a committee of base leaders, led by 35th Civil Engineer Squadron commander Lt. Col. David Maharrey, submitted a list of CINC projects that he and base commander Brig. Gen. Bill Rew ultimately approved.

“We did some minor tweaking, but the prioritized list is what we went with,” Bartley said.

Those projects that provided “the most benefit for the greatest number of people on base” made the final cut, Bartley said.

“It’s not a glamorous project,” he said of the parking lot, “but it’s one we’ve been looking at for a long time. ... As a team, we decided to put the parking lot in because it’s a huge need.”

Maharrey noted that the parking area on the library’s south side is for the surrounding dormitories. “We tried to get the maximum benefit, across the board, to everybody,” he said.

The enlisted club ballroom meets that criterion, he said. It’s a high-traffic area, used by the Army, Navy and Air Force for their annual service balls; throughout the year, large groups book the ballroom for luncheons and awards and graduation ceremonies and other special events. The carpeting and wallpaper have never been replaced in the nine years since that part of the club was built, Bartley said.

While the community generated many good ideas for the prize money, Bartley and Maharrey said restrictions automatically eliminated some projects. It had to be used by Sept. 30. And, since the money is appropriated, anything requiring nonappropriated funds — such as a dog kennel — was not allowed. Also, military family housing projects — a separate pot of money — such as a new playground for North Area housing were not permitted, either.

Bartley said “a million dollars goes fairly quickly,” pointing out that the base over the last three years spent more than $15 million on quality-of-life projects — a big reason why Misawa was named “best in the Air Force” this year.

“We did consider all the inputs,” he said. “In the end, we believe we did the right thing.”

Where the money's going ...

The $1 million Misawa won as the 2005 Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award winner is to be spent on the following items:

Parking lot with 175 spaces south of Edgren High School.New carpeting and wallpaper for Tohoku Enlisted Club ballroom.Potter Fitness Center: Cross trainers, treadmills, sports and aerobic equipment, volleyball equipment, hand dryers, martial arts, strength training equipment for parent/tot room and cardio theater.Lunney Youth Center: Sports uniforms, sports equipment, gymnastics equipment.Overstreet Memorial Library: Printing materials, books and DVDs.Mokuteki Community Center: New hard drive for jukebox, gaming equipment, pool table repair, wireless network implementation.Outdoor Recreation: Cross-country skis, kayaks, camping equipment, tables and folding chairs.Base beach: Two pavilions and cement-wall barrier, inflatable equipment, bike racks.Weasel’s Den: Entrance mats.Arts and crafts annex: Frame cutter and matting supplies.Source: 35th Fighter Wing public affairs

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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