MWR inaugurates 2 new facilities in Fort Wainwright | Article
Fort Wainwright – Under partly cloudy skies with a cool breeze, Fort Wainwright held two groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities on July 29. The Aquatic Center and Community Activity Center will provide much-needed indoor recreation opportunities for the northernmost military field establishment in the United States.
“Thank you Department of the Army, Installation Management Command for making this happen to us. This is an incredible opportunity for our community. The reason we are doing this is we need to more multifunctional space for our families,” said Fort Wainwright Garrison Commander Col. Nate Surrey.
Back-to-back ceremonies inaugurated two major community facilities totaling more than $70 million. Both projects are funded by the Army MWR construction fund.
Speaking to the garrison community about the new construction, Surrey said: “It’s your money that works. Every time you go to the ski resort or the golf course or buy a burger at the Warrior Zone, that money goes back into the pool to pay for huge, wonderful facilities like this.
The new aquatic center will be located between the fitness center and the interchange station in what is currently a grass field, and will be approximately 30,000 square feet in size.
Although Fort Wainwright already has an indoor pool in the Melaven Gym, it’s often reserved for military training, with limited hours for recreational or family swimming. The new facility will be dedicated to family and recreational use, with Melaven only becoming a “mission pool” dedicated to supporting soldier readiness.
In order to best meet indoor recreational needs and desires, as evidenced by multiple previous community interest surveys, the Aquatic Center will contain more than just a 25-meter swimming pool. It will also contain a wading area and zero-depth entry pool with kid-friendly water features like water sprayers and dump buckets, as well as slides.
Additionally, the facility will contain an adult-only pool deck, vending machines, rest areas and a party room. There will be men’s and women’s locker rooms as well as a family locker room.
The new Community Activity Center will be located in the “Downtown Fort Wainwright” area near the Commissioner, PX, the existing bowling alley and hotel.
This facility will be approximately 40,000 square feet and will include a variety of recreational elements, with an indoor play area claiming a significant amount of the floor space. This will also include a play area for toddlers and a family fitness room. Families have long requested a multifunctional indoor family space on post.
However, the new center will have many features that will appeal to military members and families alike. It will contain a modern 16-lane bowling alley; electronic and traditional games, with multi-sport simulators and virtual reality, including table football and pool tables; an outdoor patio for summer get-togethers; party rooms; and food and beverage operations, including food service and full bar.
Plus, there will be plenty of comfy seating throughout to allow all ages to simply come and relax any time of the year.
“We hear the needs of our community and we invest in Fort Wainwright, our soldiers, our families and all of our customers. These facilities will be a huge improvement for our community and will greatly enhance indoor recreation opportunities, especially on our winter days which can often reach -40 F! We are thrilled to support this enhancement to ensure our Soldiers and their families can have meaningful connections whether they are spending time in nature or indoors,” said Allison Long, Director of Family Leadership, morale, well-being and recreation.
Construction will begin August 1 at both sites and will continue approximately until the first significant snowfall of the season. The aquatic center will require “deep dynamic compaction” to prepare the ground during the first two weeks of work, so there may be louder sounds near the construction site when a crane picks up and drops a weight to compress the ground for a solid foundation.
Rendering images of both facilities will be displayed in the PFC lobby for viewing by the Fort Wainwright community. Both facilities are scheduled to open in the spring of 2024.