Commentary Search

Fall ... A time for change

  • Published
  • By Col. Lawrence Martin
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
Welcome to Fall here in Florida! Did you notice that big drop in temperature and humidity? No? Neither did I. I'm told those changes come later, maybe in time for Thanksgiving!?! 

As a Minnesotan, a Yankee to my Arkansas in-laws, Fall remains my favorite season, a time of reflection and change; turning leaves; shorter, cooler, crisper days; and football games. Well, at least we have the football games here in Florida. 

Though a peek outside today doesn't look much different than a peek outside 3 months ago, we really are in a season of change across the base. We've just opened our new Security Forces building and the "Vince", the new CENTCOM Joint Intelligence Center. With the advent of these new facilities, comes an increase in the number of people needing parking spaces, therefore, many have had to find new parking spots or adjust to fighting for "their" slot. 

We've made great progress on a new training facility for the 927th Air Refueling Wing, new additions to our operations and maintenance facilities, new buildings and a parking garage for USSOCOM, and the foundation of a new CENTCOM headquarters facility. All just in time to get ready for the other seasonal indicators here at MacDill: the migration of our fam campers and seasonal residents.

 For the next 6-8 months, the population using the base will increase by more than 100,000 - all sharing base facilities, services and venues with our permanent residents. 

This Fall will bring two major changes to base life. We'll open our new clinic near the Dale Mabry Gate, a 252,000 square foot complex that replaces some nine older buildings from our old hospital. Our 6th Medical Group personnel will move over 8,000 boxes this week and weekend as they "magically" close up shop on Thursday. With only one down day, our courageous and heroic med group will begin seeing patients in their new facility this coming Monday. 

The Med Group will have plenty of signage (both metal and human) at the facility to help our customers (and themselves) find their way around. We've considered having Alpine rescue dogs brought in to assist our security forces find lost people if needed (well, not really....we did consider issuing GPSs, though). 

Our other change is a new address for many of our residents. Harbor Bay and Clark Realty have been working hard to get the first several houses completed and occupied by late fall. We've all enjoyed watching new homes rise up on Bayshore Blvd--they signal growth in our on-base community. By this time next year, we'll see many more families moving onto base in our modern, new homes. With this resurgence in our on-base population, we're looking forward to bringing back and expanding many on-base recreational and support programs. 

Just as those fall leaves can make a mess, our changes may cause inconvenience to some as we shift traffic and parking patterns with each new opening and addition. We think traffic may lessen in and out of the Bayshore Gate as people no longer need to visit the old clinic. We will probably see more traffic on North Boundary, near the BX and new clinic. And as we have done many times before here on MacDill, we'll adjust to keep everyone safe. 

And folks, as we see new traffic patterns emerging for the vehicles, we also need to remember that there will be pedestrians crossing streets and parking lots in new places. Please be wary as you drive through the populated areas of our base. And pedestrians, please remember that although you see the car coming toward you, that driver may not see you. Please cross safely in the crosswalks. Enjoy a safe Fall here at MacDill.