The inside of the future barracks at Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City is so noise-proof one neither hears the sounds of a helicopter hovering nearby nor the sounds of helicopters taking off from the air station in the distance.
The three-story housing complex, which is scheduled for completion by Nov. 22, is across the road from the newly dedicated rescue swimmer training facility. The housing complex, in addition to being closer to the training facility, is going to replace the aging barracks and galley at Thrun Hall.
Cmdr. Nick DeLaura, the base’s facilities engineer, was asked when he anticipates a grand opening of the future barracks and the future next-door galley.
“It’ll probably be sometime in the February-March time frame, I would suspect,” DeLaura said.
The future barracks and galley is a nearly $17 million project. When complete, the new barracks will be more than 64,000 square feet, with the capacity to house more than 290 residents. The new galley, which is approximately 9,000 square feet, will have the capacity to serve approximately 85 people at a time.
DeLaura said he anticipates the Coast Guard is going to begin operating the new barracks after the start of 2013. DeLaura said plans are to begin operating the galley, which was already completed in July, when the barracks is opened for housing.
The barracks is just behind the galley, with each of the barracks’ rooms to require a plastic pass card to enter.
“It’s pretty much set up similar to a hotel,” DeLaura said.
DeLaura said the center of the barracks’ floors is going to have recreation rooms, with televisions and ping-pong tables, and will provide a place for residents to relax.
From the centers of each floor and a single elevator, the residential wings go north and west.
DeLaura said the plan is to house two residents per room. Each room is going to be carpeted and have two loft-type racks, with beds on top and desks/study spaces underneath them.
Also, each room is going to have a television, a microwave and a small refrigerator, along with an Internet docking point and a sink, a toilet and a shower.
And each floor of the new barracks is going to have a kitchenette, a laundry room and a study room.
On the third floor of the future barracks, Paul Tuttle, a fire alarm and telecommunications worker for a subcontractor on the project, was pleased with the progress of work.
“It’s nice to see the final touches coming in,” Tuttle said. “It’s looking good.”
Danny Morgan, a governmental representative for quality assurance on the project, said that, at one point, there were approximately 100 crew members laboring to make the massive structure a reality.
Morgan said crew members have been working around the clock, on Saturdays and even Sundays, Morgan said.
“It’s going pretty fast,” he said.
Inside the galley, DeLaura smiled as he provided a tour. The galley’s chairs, cooking equipment and cold storage rooms are in place.
There is still more work to be done outside, as evidenced by crews starting work on a turn lane on the road to prevent traffic congestion when residents enter and exit the barracks and galley site. The galley parking area is complete, but the barracks’ parking area has yet to be blacktopped.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., are glad to see the barracks and galley site is almost ready. The two were on base for the dedication of the rescue swimmer training facility, which was held Wednesday. The training facility cost $24 million and is being operated by the Aviation Technical Training Center.
Burr said he believes the barracks and galley site shows that leaders in Washington, D.C., are “beginning to acknowledge the importance of this facility in the grand scheme of what the Coast Guard does.”
In addition, Burr credited the community with continuing to support efforts to help the base.
“And, now, we’re stepping up and providing the facilities that they richly deserve,” he said.
Butterfield, who has been championing improvements to the base, said, “We’ve got to continue to invest in America and invest in the infrastructure of America — and this is part of our infrastructure.”
The future barracks and galley site is going to replace the donut-shaped Thrun, which dates back to 1968. Thrun has constantly needed maintenance and repairs, but the building also was close to both the air station and the Aviation Logistics Center. The ALC is tasked with material and technical support for Coast Guard air stations and aircraft.
“With the old barracks and galley, it was slammed in the middle of the operations and industrial area,” DeLaura said.
So, with the new barracks and galley, housing and food service are going to be in the community and training area of the base, DeLaura said.
Also, DeLaura said part of the barracks is going to house Small Boat Station Elizabeth City personnel overnight when they are on duty.
DeLaura said plans call for tearing down Thrun, with the demolition work to probably occur sometime next summer.
Contact Bill West at email@example.com