New Wiesbaden housing policy: Three strikes and you're out
January 17, 2005
WIESBADEN, Germany — The 221st Base Support Battalion is taking a cue from the great American sport.
Specifically, the three strikes bit. The Wiesbaden-based battalion has begun a radio ad campaign warning troops in its 2,700 housing units not to break noise, trash or other rules, or else. After three infractions, they could be bounced out of housing, the battalion warns, although it hasn’t said to where any evicted soldiers would go.
“Our goal is not have that happen. Our goal is to have the policy in place,” said Alice Logan, housing chief for the battalion. She said the campaign is more about education than about playing hardball, and after a first infraction a soldier would be brought in and counseled.
“The three strikes rule is simply a method of education for our residents,” Logan said, “and actually is just a training tool to encourage our residents to follow the rules.”
No one has yet gotten three strikes, base officials said. They also declined to elaborate on where strike-out soldiers would wind up, be it off to the barracks while their family is sent home to the States or merely out into the German town on their own dime.
Logan said there wasn’t any one event that led to the campaign, launched just last month. The military housing areas, though, bump right into their German neighbors and therefore enforcing locals laws is as important as enforcing base regulations. That means quiet hours from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day as well as all day Sundays. And no mowing the lawn after 7 p.m. and before 9 a.m. Pets can only relieve themselves 50 feet from a building or playground.
And the battalion’s rules dictate that families can only own a maximum of two pets — unless one of them is a panther. “No exotic pets,” Logan said. “We don’t want any lions or tigers or bears.”
Logan said many residents simply don’t know how German laws work when they first arrive.
“The housing folks that we’ve got here, as with any other housing area in Europe, most of these people it’s their first time in Europe and they don’t know what the rules are.”
The battalion had four noise complaints from Germans in the summer over lawn mowing, but haven’t had any since, said Donna Dean, the battalion spokeswoman.
In one of the radio spots, a child takes trash outside but can’t get the unwieldy waste into the tall container.
“Part of the problem is parents letting their 5-year-old take out the trash,” Dean said. “They want to teach them responsibility, but it’s your responsibility to make sure the trash gets in the container.”
She said that noise is such a concern in Germany that the battalion itself always notifies the city in case of any special event. She said the Americans should be good neighbors to each other as well as the Germans.
“We want housing to be a place where people enjoy spending three years of their life.”
Apparently the radio campaign is being heard.
On a recent weekday at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, the base housing area was quiet under a cold slate sky.
Andrea Nigg watched as her two children played on swings and the merry-go-round. She said she was aware of the recycling, noise and trash rules, and that word was getting out. She didn’t elaborate on whether three strikes are a good idea.
“I’ve heard of it,” she said simply.
Ray Conway contributed to this report.