MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Base housing officials working alongside Col. Daniel J. Lecce hosted a town-hall style meeting to discuss with residents of the Watson Village and Berkley Manor housing area, proposed occupancy and re-designations they had in store for them.
Before the meeting was started, rumors were already circulating about how residents in certain areas would be forced to move and pay out of pocket, that rumor was quickly extinguished during the meeting.
An issue that the housing community is facing is filling the Berkley Manor houses, some of which remain unoccupied. Different plans and re-designations were discussed and Lecce took this time to hear what the residents in both communities had to say.
Some staff non-commissioned officers and their families voiced their opinions that there should be a housing difference citing that fraternization and living next door to their employees could cause problems.
Another issue that was brought up at times was the ‘different pay, same housing’ issue. Many staff NCOs and their spouses believed that they should have better housing because of their rank and time in service.
In a poll conducted by Atlantic Marine Corps Communities, private-public venture, many homeowners wanted to make Watkins Village a junior enlisted only housing area. Roughly the same number of people wanted to have a specific area in Berkley Manor reserved just for E-4s and E-5s.
“I don’t want to have my husband come home from work stressed at his junior Marines and then see them partying it up across the street,” said one staff NCO’s wife.
This was the main issue talked about during the town hall meeting. There is currently very little demand for staff NCO housing, with wait lists being small or non-existent.
If the occupancy requirements are not met, waterfall is implemented where bachelors, retirees and Department of Defense civilians could help to fill homes.
If the occupancy is not met, there will not be sufficient revenue to repay debt, maintain homes and recapitalize long term projects.
Because of all this, AMCC has proposed an integration of Staff NCO and NCO families as opposed to a waterfall. Along with this, they would offer staff NCOs new houses in several areas to include Watkins Village, Knox Landing and Watkins Grove.
In the proposed plan there were three options on the table. One would re-designate a majority of Berkley Manor, leaving only 77 single family homes and having staff NCOs voluntarily shift into Watkins Village, Watkins Grove, Knox Cove and Knox Landing.
A second option was re-designation of half of Berkley Manor leaving 337 single family homes for staff NCOs with no change in Watkins Village. A third option was the re-designation of Watkins Village staff NCO area to NCO leaving all of Berkley Manor available to single-family staff NCOs.
However, each option came with pros and cons. While all the plans minimized a risk of waterfall, some provide less segregation between staff NCOs and NCOs.
All of this was presented to the audience and afterward, Lecce, along with AMCC personnel listened to the audience and vowed to take their thoughts and concerns into consideration before a final decision is picked.