I-TEAM UPDATE: Work begins on new housing at Fort Eisenhower
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Fort Eisenhower on Tuesday morning hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for new housing for service members and their families.
The project will bring 76 new homes in a brand new neighborhood named Pine Tree Terrace at Providence Family Homes. Those include 3 and 4 bedroom townhomes for Junior Enlisted service members (E-1 to E-3) and their familes.
Tuesday’s event was more ceremonial than a true groundbreaking; work has already started on the development. The project is in the “site civil phase” or “horizontal construction,” where crews are laying infrastructure like sewage lines. It has an estimated completion date of Spring 2025.
This project comes after the secretary of the Army got a firsthand look last week at the privatized family housing on Fort Eisenhower that’s been the focus of an investigation by Sen. Jon Ossoff.
“We come together to celebrate a ceremonial groundbreaking on a project that holds really immense significance for the families and community here at Fort Eisenhower,” said Chuck Parker, Balfour Beatty’s Executive Vice President of Military Housing. “So right in the heart of a newly renamed Providence Family Homes, we are beginning a journey to provide new homes that are a place of security and comfort for those who have committed themselves to protecting our freedom.”
Our I-TEAM first broke the story about plans for Pine Tree Terrace back in April of 2021, but it has been plagued by delays ever since.
“The only real solution for housing here for Eisenhower is new construction, and I’ll tell you today, we’re marching towards that end,” said Fort Eisenhower Garrison Commander Col. Reggie Evans.
Considering more than 70% of all existing homes on post are 45-years-old or older, Col. Evans knows one new neighborhood isn’t going to solve all of Fort Eisenhower’s housing problems.
“We’ve been on the clock long enough, and today, it’s time for a change,” said Col. Evans.
There also seemed to be a change Tuesday in the relationship between Fort Eisenhower and Balfour Beatty. Balfour Beatty Communities -- or BBC -- has been at the center of an I-TEAM investigation for more than a decade. We’ve been uncovering unsafe conditions like mold, electrical and gas issues, pest problems and leaking sewage in housing that’s run by Balfour Beatty. Senator Jon Ossoff referenced our I-TEAM investigation in his Senate investigation and subsequent hearing on Capitol Hill.
For the last couple of years, Fort Eisenhower has essentially been the national poster child for bad military housing.
Col. Evans did not shy away from that Tuesday.
“I acknowledge the last couple of years BBC has been under justifiable scrutiny. It’s been some tough years,” he said.
However, Col. Evans made it very clear Balfour Beatty is Fort Eisenhower’s partner, and we all have a vested interest in the success of that partnership. He warned that if BBC fails at Fort Eisenhower, our military families are the ones who pay the price.
“If they’re not respected within our community, then they can’t recruit and retain the staff. They don’t get the support of their lenders. They are unable to invest in our aging inventory and, in the end, they’re not able to provide that quality housing for our service members,” Col Evans said. “And we all lose.”
As we’ve reported, aside from it just being the right thing to do to make sure our military familes have safe housing, it’s also a national security isuue and a retention issue.
Unfortunately, no one from Balfour Beatty or Fort Eisenhower was available for an interview today, and our I-TEAM asked. We did submit questions to BBC -- some of our own and some provided to our I-TEAM by military families.
We’ll keep you posted when or if we get a response.
MORE THAN A DECADE OF I-TEAM COVERAGE:
- Ossoff returns to Fort Gordon to announce progress
- Families share stories on Fort Gordon housing problems
- Fort Gordon housing investigation could bring consequences
- Fort Gordon housing provider pleads guilty to fraud scheme
- How military families feel about housing settlement
- 10 years later, we hear from the private company that provides housing on Fort Gordon
- Mold, filth linger in Fort Gordon housing, investigators find
- U.S. Army kept in the dark about many issues, employee says
- Asking about Balfour Beatty complaints only raises more questions
- Some companies still fail to address safety issues in military housing
- Explaining the safety behind the Tenant Bill of Rights
- Housing company responds to allegations about drowning at Fort Gordon
- Mold, bugs, and safety issues put spotlight on housing provider
- GAO report shows much work to be done for private military housing
- Mold at Fort Gordon? Part 1 and Part 2
- Crews demolish housing unfit for Fort Gordon service members
- 8 years after reports of mold at homes, problems may still exist
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