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Reserve Center due facelift

January 22nd, 2013

Tucked away on Route 17K in Bullville is the Staff Sergeant Frederick J. Ill U.S. Army Reserve Center, a 153-acre training facility taken over by the U.S. Army in 1967. Sgt. Pallone said they have outgrown the buildings erected around 1950 and it has been decided to upgrade the facility by demolishing some structures and constructing new buildings.

According to Jeffrey Hrzic, chief of the environmental division at Fort Dix, the existing buildings are “over-utilized and are not configured to support effective training.”

“It’s outdated for what the military does these days for training its troops,” said Sergeant First Class Kenneth Pallone, of the U.S. Army Reserves.

The Army Reserve Center currently accommodates about 160 reservists on weekends and for a couple of weeks of training in the summer. It also maintains a full-time staff of active duty reservists, including Sgt. Pallone.

“All of the planning is still in the first phase,” said Sgt. Pallone. “We’re just at the beginning.”

Pallone said several factors are being investigated, from possible historical value to environmental impacts, and thus which buildings will be destroyed and the exact location of any new structures has not yet been determined. He added that the proposed new building would probably be located back on the upper end of the property.

According to Hrzic, the new construction would include a training facility to accommodate 16 staff members during the week and approximately 250 additional reservists spread over three weekends per month. A large motor pool for military vehicles has also been proposed.

Hrzic recently contacted the town of Crawford to advise them of their plans, noting that the U.S. Army Reserves and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are preparing an environmental assessment (EA) to analyze the impacts. The town was asked for their input as to any issues. Potential impacts to soil, water, air quality, historic properties, noise, aesthetics, traffic and other factors will all be reviewed.

Expected activities at the center include classroom training, military exercises including land navigation and earth-moving exercises, and limited vehicle maintenance.

“Live weapons would not be discharged at the site,” said Hrzic.

Sgt. Pallone explained that the Bullville site is focused on engineering, specifically building roads. The training they provide to reservists consists of clearing, prepping sites, filling, grading and other aspects. They do not build structures.

The Bullville site is not a boot camp, nor is it a mobilization site for deployment. Instead, the center is meant to maintain and update the reservists’ skills so they can remain proficient in their jobs. Sgt. Pallone said the reservists trained in Bullville come from all across the state, as well as from Connecticut and New Jersey, as the center is the closest facility that can train them in their duty description.

“I think it’s a good project,” said Crawford Town Supervisor Charles Carnes on Tuesday, noting that the work would bring the structures on the property up to current codes and allow the military to facilitate more reservists.

While according to Planning Board attorney Ben Gailey the project is “immune” from local zoning requirements, Carnes said the town has turned over the request to the building inspector for any input.

Sgt. Pallone said he has been told that the planning phase should be completed by summer and they will hopefully break ground next year.

By Rachel Coleman

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