Berkeley Manor making way for NCOs

13 Oct 2011 | Sgt. Bryan A. Peterson

Starting tomorrow, Atlantic Marine Corps Communities officials will start receiving noncommissioned officer housing referrals from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Housing Office to fill unoccupied staff noncommissioned officer homes in the Berkeley Manor housing area aboard the base.

The final plan was determined based on the results of a survey conducted online by AMCC residents as well as a town-hall style meeting that took place last month at the Russell Marine and Family Services Center aboard the MCB Camp Lejeune. AMCC, along with Col. Daniel J. Lecce, the MCB Camp Lejeune commanding officer, proposed three options to fill the homes, since not enough SNCOs occupy the residences.

The three options all included the integration of NCOs into a traditionally all-SNCO housing area. The active-duty NCO families would come from base housing waiting lists. These options raised some questions, such as “different pay, same housing” as well as concerns about fraternization.  Some families voiced their preference for single-family homes while others preferred the new larger townhomes in Watkins Village.

Following the town hall, all information from residents was reviewed and discussed by base leadership to determine the best possible solution to solve the housing vacancy issue.  Ultimately, as a result of a suggestion made by a resident at the town hall, the decision to integrate Berkeley Manor was made, leaving Watkins Village as is and the final area for integration within the Berkeley Manor housing area segregated along larger natural community breaks and road divisions.

Kathleen Murney, project director for AMCC, said that the first portion of the Berkeley Manor homes that will be integrated with NCO families will still contain some SNCOs initially, but the area is still under renovation and will have the most vacant homes with the least number of SNCO families inconvenienced.

“The SNCOs and their families who are currently living there can remain in their current home or they can complete an AA form through their command and submit it to the MCB Camp Lejeune Military Housing Office to be relocated to a SNCO neighborhood, such as new Watkins Grove and Knox Landing areas, which are slated to be completed by summer of next year,” said Murney. “While the move will be at residents’ expense,  AMCC will pay a partial dislocation allowance to help with cable and phone reconnection costs.” 

To break it down, the areas selected in the Berkeley Manor neighborhood will include all residences north of Maryland Avenue. The process is broken into three phases. The first phase includes all residences north of Colorado Avenue and west of Michigan Street. The area is under renovation and is 70 percent complete. Phase one will be 100 percent complete with the transition to NCO housing before phase two or three will start.

Once phase one is complete, referrals will pour into phase two, which is east of Michigan Street and every home encompassed by the Colorado Avenue loop.

Following Phase two, phase three, which is west of Florida Avenue and north of Maryland Avenue, will begin the transition.

“Occupancy and demand will drive the timelines for Phase two and three to become NCO housing,” stated Dixie Lanier-Johnson, the strategic marketing manager with AMCC.  “It is expected that the complete transition could take up to three years or more.”

All in all, AMCC hopes to have the transition completed by 2014.

“Each neighborhood has its own waiting list determined by rank,” said Lanier-Johnson. “Incoming families can go to our website and check out the areas they would want to live. Depending on that, it will determine if the family will be put on a waiting list or not. By opening up the SNCO housing to NCOs, more families will move into homes faster which is a good thing.”

Murney said AMCC needs to maintain a 95 percent occupancy rate to ensure proper management, renovations and upgrades can happen.

“We are here to make sure that service members and their families have good quality homes to live in,” said Murney. “Without sufficient SNCO’s, the next option is NCO’s to fill the gap. Homes must be occupied to ensure proper maintenance and long-term repairs are possible.”

Lanier-Johnson added that the service members’ basic allowance for housing goes to repay the debt used to demolish and rebuild the homes along with utilities, $20,000 renters insurance, fire, police, landscaping and other amenities.  The re-designation of the Berkeley Manor housing area will allow the occupancy to remain high.

To get the word out to Marines and sailors across base about the re-designation plan, Sergeant Major William C. Rice, the MCB Camp Lejeune sergeant major, already contacted sergeants major across MCB Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and surrounding installations.

“I have briefed sergeants major from the tenant commands and regiments about what’s going on,” said Rice. “This is the final plan that came out of meetings between base and AMCC officials. Unfortunately, as with any situation, you can’t make everyone happy. But, this was a plan designed to address all the issues.”