By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
For the first time since becoming U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander, Col. Jason W. Condrey hosted a town hall in the Panzer Barracks chapel, Sept. 23.
Although physical attendance was sparse with about two dozen military community members in the chapel, many more tuned in to a live streaming on the garrison’s Facebook page or looked at it in the following days–the complete town hall is available online for viewing. Condrey followed up that town hall by focusing on housing during the weekly “Command Update” program on AFN Stuttgart, Sept. 25.
“I will tell you that I look at everything that we do with what I term as the ‘Condrey family test;’ would I be okay if that happened to me? Would I be okay if that happened to my family? Would I be okay if my family had to live under those conditions?” Condrey said. “That’s where I personally start from with every concern that’s brought to me.”
According to IMCOM-Europe Housing Branch, it manages 7,355 Army-owned housing units and 4,712 Army-leased housing units, more than 70 percent of the Army’s traditional housing inventory. Kelley, Patch and Robinson Barracks, and Panzer Kaserne, are home to thousands of Stuttgart military community residents.
Condrey, now two and a half months on the job as commander, said there are some practices that make him scratch his head and others that he sees can be done better.
“We’re in the process of trying to put some things in place that deal with some of those head-scratchers and make the services that we provide much more efficient,” Condrey said.
Residents asked questions by stepping up to the mic, writing questions to be read to the commander, or posting their inquiries on a special events page online. Much of what Condrey spoke about before opening up the floor to questions answered many of the questions received on the Facebook town hall events page. He continued to respond to questions for an additional half hour after the town hall was scheduled to end, then further spoke individually with concerned community members present. Questions that weren’t addressed during the town hall were given to the commander and the directorates for responses.
So, how can Stuttgart residents become involved? According to Judith Teague, chief of housing for IMCOM-Europe, simply by providing input when asked.
“We take note of feedback provided via focus groups, town halls and resident surveys,” Teague said. “In fact, my team and I review every question and resident comment noted on Army’s annual resident survey. It is the single most important way for residents to voice an opinion. Each garrison develops an action plan as a result of the annual survey; we consider resident feedback in our future planning actions.”
Teague said housing area development plans “are crucial in validating our future requirements.”
While the primary topic was how Stuttgart community residents viewed their on-post housing, other topics were heard, included gym equipment, MWR activities, school buses and playgrounds across the garrison footprint. Of particular interest was the closure of privately owned vehicles through the Patch Barracks K&K gate, which was designated exclusively for heavy traffic such as construction equipment and delivery or moving vans; that closure caused a traffic jam that backed up on to city streets, and by the time of the evening town hall, that decision to not allow POVs through K&K gate was rescinded.
(Editor’s note: Some statistics and other information were provided by the IMCOM-Europe Housing Branch. Watch the town hall on the garrison Facebook page and read more about the K&K gate online at StuttgartCitizen.com.)
Commander answers questions, addresses housing issues at town hall
By Col. Jason W. Condrey
Commander, USAG Stuttgart
On-post housing is our focus now at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart. I want you, as a community member, to know how the garrison is tackling our local housing issues.
In September, we received the Army’s housing survey results. The feedback you offered is guiding our efforts. Most issues fell into one of four categories. For each, we asked ourselves some tough questions:
- Appliances – Are they getting old? Are the repairs being done? Do the community members know how to use them?
- Maintenance – What is our response time when people have requests? Does the work get finished and what is the quality of the work?
- Policy – What can we do to help newcomers understand housing options? How can we encourage building coordinators to help enforce housing rules?
- Communication – How are we communicating with our customers? What can we do better to share information with tenants?
At the Sept. 23 town hall, more than 30 community members attended. Another 1,100 watched our Facebook live stream. My team, to include directors from housing, public works, emergency services and others spoke candidly with community members about their concerns.
We don’t have all the answers. Some issues, due to available resources and policy, are beyond our immediate control. However, locally, we are already seeking solutions. Our approaches fall into 4 areas: Choice, Assuring Quality, Ownership and Authorities/micro-investments. Key to each of these is successfully communicating them with the community.
For example to assure quality, as quickly as we can hire people with the right qualifications, we are establishing a quality assurance cell to better coordinate and maintain communication with customers and ensure the quality of repairs. Our maintenance contractor has a significant backlog of work orders – more than 2,000. By the end of November, they assure me that will be fixed.
In terms of ownership, we also need your help policing our community. We want to inspire a sense of pride for our community and that starts with aesthetics. You’ll see our regular fall clean-ups. But, also we will have monthly area beautification activities in our housing areas. This effort is being led by the senior enlisted leaders within our major tenant units.
Most of all, let’s keep the housing dialogue going. I look forward to your feedback. The Army will issue another housing survey in November. I encourage residents to take part in that.
Also, please come out to our next community town hall at the Kelley Theater in December.
Together, we can make our community better and continue to say, “I’m glad I live here.”