Yongsan could get new park

By ASHLEY ROWLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 2, 2008

SEOUL — U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan could get a new $400,000 park and renovated driving range next year, approximately three years before the base is scheduled to move south to Pyeongtaek.

The park would be built on the current driving range, which would be halved during renovation. It would include trails, covered picnic areas, a volleyball court, and a concrete pad that could be turned into an ice skating rink during the winter. It would cover an area approximately 100 yards by 100 yards.

Plans for the park — including whether it will even be built — have not been finalized. But Yongsan commander Col. Dave Hall said he expects it to be constructed in the next six to eight months.

"We’re bridging the gap from today to tomorrow," he said Tuesday after Yongsan’s monthly Community Information Forum, where plans for the park were announced.

John Ghim, acting chief of the Directorate of Public Works, said the park and driving range renovation could cost $400,000, but a cost analysis hasn’t been completed.

Hall said the park is worth building even though Yongsan will closed in upcoming years. All U.S. bases in and north of Seoul are scheduled to close and be returned to South Korean control in 2012.

That plan could be delayed because of slow construction at Camp Humphreys, which is being expanded to handle an influx of servicemembers moving south after the base closures. Some South Korean media reports have speculated that U.S. Forces Korea bases could close as late as 2016.

"We don’t know that we’re leaving in 2012. The transition gets started in 2012," Hall said.

USFK commander Gen. Walter Sharp has said engineers are reviewing the Humphreys expansion, and he expects to update the time line for the move soon. The move to Humphreys is expected around the same time the United States gives South Korea wartime control of its troops — April 17, 2012.

Hall said some U.S. government employees will remain in Seoul after the relocation and will be able to use the park.

In other news from the forum:

  • There will be a second power outage on Yongsan’s South Post on Oct. 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Crews were able to make about half the needed improvements to the base’s aging wiring system during a daylong outage on Sept. 27, Ghim said.

"I’m afraid to say this may not be the last one. The wiring systems are so old, we’re continuing to have to upgrade the system," he said.

A representative from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said extra staff will work at the Townhouse Food Court during Saturday’s outage to handle the expected large crowd.

  • Halloween will be celebrated at Yongsan and Hannam Village on Saturday, Nov. 1. Hall said marking the holiday on a weekend will allow families from outside Area II to travel to Yongsan for trick-or-treating.
  • The Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital is offering flu vaccines at Yongsan’s 1st Replacement Company from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays. The vaccine is also available at the hospital’s vaccine clinic during regular duty hours. The vaccine is currently available only as a nasal spray, which is effective only in patients 2 to 49 years old. The hospital expects to receive the shot form of the vaccine in mid-October.
  • Military police will conduct courtesy checks of homes at Yongsan and Hannam Village while residents are on leave, on temporary duty or at field exercises. Residents should fill out a "Courtesy Quarters Check Form," available at MP stations, listing the dates they will be gone, dependents staying behind at the residence, and emergency contact information. MPs will conduct a minimum of three checks a day, but will not check on pets, said Ricky Oxendine, director of emergency services at Yongsan.

The driving range at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan could be renovated and a new park constructed on half of it. Yongsan officials announced the plan on Tuesday, and said the park could be built in six to eight months.

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