‘Fort Lee North’ Christened
Deputy Chief of Training Gayle Olszyk, Albert Cruz of the BRAC Construction Office, Chief of Staff/Deputy Commandant Col. Michael T. McBride and Ed Graham of the Army Corps of Engineers stand at the top of a dirt mound at Fort Lee North.

The U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School has not yet moved its operation to Fort Lee.

But it already has a presence on the installation.

This was symbolized Nov. 13 when Chief of Staff/Deputy Commandant Col. Michael T. McBride and Deputy Chief of Training Gayle Olszyk visited the school’s future Fort Lee North location and planted the OCS flag. Olszyk said the informal event was a figurative act of what will become of the site in the coming years.

“It represents all of the work we’ve done over the last year to start laying out the plans for this campus, and now it’s a reality that is going to start coming true,” said Olszyk, who doubles as chief of the school’s Base Realignment and Closure Strategic Planning Group. “….In 18-24 months, we’ll have buildings up and people working in them.”

BRAC is an ongoing program to effectively and efficiently manage installations and operations. Under the 2005 version of BRAC, the OCS will move several hundred military and civilian personnel, equipment and facilities from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Redstone Arsenal, Ala., to Fort Lee by 2011.

McBride, who recently returned from a deployment, has held his current position nearly three months. He visited the installation upon his new assignment in the summer but had never seen the actual location where the complex will be built.

“I’m amazed,” said McBride as he surveyed the vast expanse of land at the construction site. “I’ve been hearing about BRAC – I’ve been hearing about the timeline over the next two to four years when the mission will be moved down here. I’ve heard about the progress that was ongoing, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of the project and the progress that’s been made to date.”

Workers began clearing the area north of Route 36, formerly known as Log Warrior and Training Area 5, in the summer. The work has progressed to the installation of water and sewer lines to what will eventually become a modern campus-like environment with nearly 30 new buildings over a 200 acres of land. It will include a medical clinic, convenience store, classrooms, barracks and a dining facility that will be one of the largest in the Army. A bridge over Route 36 will connect it with the Fort Lee main post.

Olszyk, the first OCS employee assigned to Fort Lee, said construction is on schedule.

“Regarding construction, we’re moving right along,” she said. “We should be awarding (the contract) for the central campus by the end of the calendar year and the barracks (construction contract) will be awarded by mid-December.”

The dining facility construction contract will also be awarded by mid-December, said Olszyk.

“Construction will begin about three months after the contracts are awarded,” she added. “The goal is to start getting people into buildings around July ’09.”