Above is a conceptual rendering of the Armed Forces Reserve Center being built in San Marcos.
By SEAN BATURA
Houston-based construction firm Satterfield & Pontikes has begun building a United States military complex on 19 acres on the south side of Clovis Barker Road in San Marcos, less than a mile from Interstate-35.
The San Marcos Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC), one of 17 planned for Texas, will be a 600-member training facility for two United States Army Reserve units and four Texas National Guard units.
Once the AFRC is operational, the property comprising the Army Reserve Center across the street from San Marcos City Hall will revert back to the city’s control. The city may also reacquire the property near City Park currently leased by the Texas Army National Guard.
City officials have expressed enthusiasm regarding the prospect of San Marcos reacquiring the land parcels. City Councilmembers have said the current overcrowding of existing municipal offices could be alleviated by using the land for office space.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), all of the units are not likely to be training at the same time, and the normal usage of the AFRC will entail approximately 200 soldiers training three weekends per month. The soldiers will not use live ammunition in the city.
The majority of the troops’ weekend meals will be procured from local businesses, though the San Marcos AFRC will be equipped with a kitchen for soldiers to train in meal preparation. As the AFRC will not house soldiers, the military will also procure lodging services from local businesses.
City of San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) Chairman Sherwood Bishop said recently that he would not be surprised if lodging and food establishments sprang up near the AFRC. Bishop said there are probably enough gas stations located nearby to accommodate the additional traffic.
“The addition of 600 people coming in and out like that – then a lot of them would probably buy gas once they got here and when they’re getting ready to go home,” Bishop said. “That’s the main (economic) impact I can think of. Gas, lodging, and possibly food.”
Bishop said he expects Leah Avenue to be extended to accomodate the AFRC.
The San Marcos AFRC will consist of four buildings, according to information from the USACE: a training building (61,796 square feet), heated storage (29,756 square feet), organization maintenance building (25,805 square feet) and an unheated storage building (600 SF). According to USACE, the facility will include a library, learning center, physical fitness area, vault, weapon simulator, and areas for administrative, educational and assembly-related work.
Satterfield & Pontikes Project Manager Alejandro Gonzales said his company is building the AFRC training center’s foundation and is conducting site preparation work.
The federal government bought the 19.052 acres for the AFRC near Clovis Barker Road for $1.77 million from Houston-based Clovis Barker Business Park, LP, and awarded Satterfield-Pontikes Construction a $23,320,394 contract to build the facility. The USACE said the contract completion date for the facility is Feb. 19, 2011.
The 363rd Quartermaster Battalion is headquartered across the street from City Hall in a 45-year-old, 19,421 square foot building leased by the Army from the city. The city will regain control of the land and building if the 363rd moves to the AFRC.
Master Sergeant Gary Hollins of the 363rd said in the spring that the proximity of the skate park, the occasional presence of homeless people, and the competition between soldiers and dog park patrons for parking makes his workplace less secure than it should be. He said that, ideally, there should be a fence around a reserve facility.
“The lease with the City of San Marcos will terminate once the replacement facility (AFRC) has been constructed and the assigned units relocated to the new facility, in February 2011, unless there is a continued DOD requirement for the land lease,” a USACE spokesman said. “There are no other facilities in the San Marcos area scheduled for closure.”
San Marcos Councilmember Gaylord Bose said recently that once the Army vacates the leased tract on Hopkins Street, the city may use the property for municipal offices or courtroom space.
“Nothing’s been determined definitely, but there’s been a lot of discussions about it, and I think it’ll be a great, great benefit for the growth of our city,” Bose said. ” … We haven’t got enough room for all the personnel that we have. They’ll function much more efficiently in a lot more space.”
Bose said he would prefer to see the Hopkins tract use for city court space.
“They could expand and have a little bit more area to handle things a little more efficiently and be of much better service to the community,” Bose said. “But that’s just me. As we get more of the figures in and get more of that information in, we’ll see what we can do to make it a great asset to our community.”
Bose said the city’s parks and recreation department could make good use of the property near City Park that’s now being used for the Texas National Guard (TXARNG) armory.
TXARNG Engineer and Director of Facilities Lt. Col. Tim Senecaut said that San Marcos has leased the armory property since 1952, and the lease expires in 2052. Senecaut said the armory, also called a ARNG readiness center, is 10,776 square feet.
In addition, an Army Reserve Center will be built near Centerpoint Road in San Marcos, probably by 2012. Unlike the AFRC, which is a facility being built according to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, the new Army Reserve Center at Centerpoint Road would be constructed under Grow the Army program.
Army Reserve BRAC Transition Coordinator Roger Manaugh said in April that the AFRC may play a support role in recruitment activities at Texas State University and nearby high schools. He said it is possible that students might be given tours of the AFRC and informed of educational and professional opportunities afforded by the military.
The 16 other AFRCs planned for Texas are to be located in Camp Bullis, Grand Prairie, East Houston, Seagoville, Fort Bliss, Northwest Houston, Tyler, Round Rock, Lewisville, Amarillo, Dyess Air Force Base, Red River Army Depot, Kingsville, Huntsville, Lufkin and Brownsville.
The BRAC Commission in 2005 recommended closing twenty-four Army Reserve centers and one equipment concentration site, realigning one Army Reserve Center, and constructing 17 “multicomponent, multifunctional” AFRCs in Texas, including one in San Marcos. The BRAC Commission’s recommendations became federal law the same year.
According to a Sept. 8, 2005 BRAC Commission Report to President George W. Bush, the San Marcos AFRC will have the capacity to accomodate Texas National Guard units from Guard readiness centers in San Marcos, Seguin, and New Braunfels if the state decides to relocate those units.
The report said that building the 17 Texas AFRCs “avoids an estimated $231.3M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances, … provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies,” significantly reduces “operating costs” and creates “improved business processes.”Email | Print