Admiral: Wainwright needs more and better housing

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The chief of the U.S. Pacific Command acknowledges there are serious housing problems at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, but he's not sure how the military will find the money to handle it.

The issue came up Wednesday when Adm. Dennis Blair testified about Pacific region funding needs before Sen. Ted Stevens' Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

Blair said Fort Wainwright, which abuts Fairbanks, was 75 family housing units short.

That drew an exchange from Stevens, an Alaska Republican, who asked if those figures represent the current situation.

''Your figures are that they're 75 family housing units short in Fort Wainwright at the present time?''

''I know those particular 75,'' Blair said. ''Let me amplify that answer. Those are those ones that I've driven around -- and I'm sure you have as well -- that we shouldn't have people living in 2001.''

Stevens said he was concerned about that because of the potential for redeploying more U.S. military personnel to the Pacific.

Blair said Wainwright's housing problems have been overlooked in the traditional military construction funding process, but he wasn't sure about a solution.

''There's more than one way to provide adequate housing for our families,'' Blair said. ''The traditional Mil-Con way is one way. But some great imagination has been shown by General Gambell in the Pacific Air Force in terms of public-private ventures, and Alaska is one of the areas in which we are on the verge of success.

''Fort Wainwright, on the other hand, has these 75-some-odd units of what's basically postwar housing that is inadequate. And whether we can use the Air Force model and do it that way or whether it needs a Mil-Con project, I'm not sure.

''But we do need to replace that over time.''

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