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Bringing a piece of home to airmen in the dorms

by 2nd Lt. Erin Blanchard
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The second floor day room of Bldg. 375 features cozy furniture, televisions and desks for airmen living in the dorms.

Sharing bathrooms and having little control over the temperature of your room have become a way of life to many of the airmen who live in the dorms at MacDill. These quality-of-life issues have reached Air Force Headquarters. The new Air Force enlisted dormitory master plan will create quad pods, a four-bedroom suite, which gives each airman his or her own room, bathroom, temperature controls with an adjoining kitchen, living room and laundry room for all four-suite mates to enjoy.

The Air Force enlisted dormitory master plan will affect all Air Force bases. The plan will renovate old buildings to the new quad pod design or construct new dorms and demolish old ones, depending on such factors as funding limitations, local conditions and available land use. "The Air Force grades the dorms at every Air Force base, and starts with the base which lacks dorm facilities and those in the worst condition," said Master Sergeant Gustavo Espinosa, dorm manager.

MacDill has nine dormitory buildings with a total of 610 rooms. The projected inventory of rooms for fiscal year 2007 is 668 rooms. "Here at MacDill we are proposing a plan that would take five phases to demolish all of the existing dorms and to rebuild the quad pod design dorms and create a total of 672 dorms," said Christopher LeCompte, unaccompanied housing manager. "Throughout the phases we would create more parking, ensure all dorms to be close to the dining facility and create new perks for our residents." These perks include hurricane proof roofing and a granted $750,000 for new pavillions with barbeque pits and lights.

Although the proposed plan is still being fine-tuned, MacDill dorm residents are seeing changes. "We are always repairing and renovating", said LeCompte. "Building 375 (across from the gym) received $2.2 million of renovations not too long ago. About one year ago we had six unfunded requests, and Maj Gen (Sel) William W. Hodges, former wing commander, approved them all."

Renovations to Building 375 included a dayroom with a jukebox, pool table, foosball table, electric dartboard and a big screen television. The second floor features a library dayroom full of stuffed chairs, and the third floor has a full kitchen with café style tables and chairs. JoAnn Flagg and Shirolynn Strickland, visual merchandisers at the Base Exchange, provided all of the décor and interior design selections for the building's community rooms.

"These dorms are a lot cleaner and nicer to live in," said Airman First Class Kristen Eason, dorm 375 resident. "I think the new renovations they are doing make airmen happier to live here. The new community kitchens and dayrooms are really nice and just make it easier for airmen to want to be here".

When Eason heard about the new quad pod design she said, "That would be a great improvement. I am content now but that would definitely feel more like home", said Eason.

MacDill's proposed enlisted dormitory plan is in the approval process. If approved, MacDill will wait for appropriations from Congress to install the quad pod design. Meanwhile, MacDill's dorm residents can look forward to new renovations and repairs coming their way in hopes to bring a feeling of home to our airmen living in the dorms.

 

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