S&S - Bringing Schinnen together. U.S. consolidating military community in Netherlands.
Stars and Stripes
Bringing Schinnen together
U.S. consolidating military community in Netherlands
By Kevin Dougherty, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Monday and Tuesday, December 24 and 25, 2007
SCHINNEN, Netherlands — The Schinnen military community is wrapping up the closure of its satellite site in nearby Treebeek.
By year’s end, all of the support units in the Schinnen community will have the same address: the Emma Mine Complex. Closing nearby Treebeek will save money — about $650,000 annually — and provide more convenience and security, U.S. Army officials said.
“This is a great little community, but it is spread out,” said Army Maj. Michael McGovern, who runs the law center. “Taking Treebeek off the map for newcomers makes it very convenient.”
Nestled in southeastern Netherlands, the old coal mine is the headquarters of U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen, which supports an array of people, from Army port operators in Rotterdam to airmen at the NATO base in Geilenkirchen, Germany.
The Treebeek facility, a few miles from Schinnen, consisted of various services, such as McGovern’s law office, the education center, and programs for women and kids.
The site “was just a stand-alone building in the middle of a Dutch community,” said Byron Johnston, the education center director. “Literally, the (public) street was right outside my building.”
Due to its location, soldiers who worked at Treebeek were encouraged for security purposes to wear civilian clothes as they came and went.
Schinnen officials have spent months shifting organizations, people and desks around at Emma Mine to prepare for the consolidation of services. Construction work and facility upgrades should total $1.1 million, said Tom Budzyna, the base spokesman. Actual moving costs are expected to be about $50,000, he added.
“I’m not aware of any significant (extra) costs that will bite us (later),” Budzyna said of Treebeeck’s pending closure.
The keys to the Treebeek facility, which is now vacant, are expected to change hands in a couple of weeks.
Ironically, the lone building in Treebeek probably had more office space than what has been cobbled together at Emma Mine, Johnston said.
“We had more space than we needed,” Johnston said of the education center at Treebeek.
Whatever he and other Treebeek tenants lose in space, they hope to gain in convenience and security. Customers won’t have to travel as far for their services, and the employees themselves will be closer to the flagpole.
Earlier this month, when officials lit the community Christmas tree, Johnston was on hand to witness it. In the past, he probably would have passed it up.
The location change, he said, “makes me feel a part of the community.”