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National Guard and Reserve troops from all over the Northeast come to Fort Drum in the summer for their required two weeks of training. Currently, they are housed in World War II era buildings on the south part of post. But Fort Drum Public Works Director James Corriveau says those 70-year-old buildings are dilapidated:
"And as we tear 'em down to build more modern stuff for the 10th Mountain Division, um, the National Guard and Reserve still need a home here. And so this is the first piece of a long-term solution to that challenge."
National Guard and Reserve units decide where they want to train, and Corriveau says the hope is that over time a large, new complex will attract more units to use Fort Drum.
The new facilities represent a big upgrade from the World War II era buildings the troops have been using. Gang latrines, primitive barns for truck repairs and unairconditioned barracks will all be replaced with more modern and comfortable facilities. The administration buildings will all have better Internet access.
The funding announced last week will cover the first phase of a proposed six-part project. It's up to the Army and Congress whether to fund the remaining phases, but Corriveau says each phase will be self-contained and functional on its own. Each phase includes barracks with about 700 beds, administration buildings, a motor pool area and dining facilities.
Corriveau described it as "Basically a little campus for the National Guard and Reserve to come in in the summertime for their two-week training and set up shop. Hopefully, when all six phases are built, we'll have six similar-sized campuses, six battalions' worth, a whole brigade campus out here, that'll serve for several thousand National Guard and Reserve soldiers at one time.
The first phase of the project has been awarded to a Watertown contractor. Corriveau says construction is expected to take about a year and a half, and will create “more than several dozen” jobs.