It is go time as troops start construction
The temperature is rising and so is the pace of work at Freedom Park.
In case you are wondering what all the commotion is about, troops from the 612th Engineering out of Duluth began setting up camp at Freedom Park over Memorial Day weekend.
Troops, tents and heavy equipment in the park have become a regular sight over the past couple of summers. The soldiers working on site are participating in the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program and play an integral role in the construction of Freedom Park Center.
Of the estimated $4.3 million budget for the project, the labor contribution is estimated to be worth 50% to 60% of that cost.
According to Ken House, who is overseeing the project for VFW Post 10818 New Richmond and St. Croix County, the number of troops is expected to top out around 200 in late June.
“We will have 20 soldiers in the park setting up camp on May 30, followed by 60 more soldiers arriving and starting work on the park on June 1. The number of soldiers working on the project will peak between June 22 and 23 at 201 soldiers,” House said.
The number of soldiers working on the project on any given day is expected to fluctuate somewhere between 65 and 200 through the end of the summer.
Freedom Park Center is a project eight years in the making. When completed, the 16,000-square-foot facility will house a Veteran’s Center, Senior Program Center and Park Facilities and Community Center in New Richmond. The project will be located on 5 acres with a patio and healing garden overlooking Hatfield Lake. The project is currently scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Maj. Khoran Lee of the U.S. Army’s 416 Engineer Command took time out to answer questions about this summer’s Innovative Readiness Training deployment to Freedom Park.
What specific skills will soldiers be learning or refining during their training this summer and how will that contribute toward completion of the building project?
“For engineer-related missions, soldiers will work on their technical engineer skills for the construction project providing the following capabilities in asphalt teams, concrete sections and construction management teams. Engineers will apply disciplines to perform the required individual and collective tasks for the construction requirements. Tasks frequently performed in general engineering include providing environmental assessments, master facility and design support, and developing and maintaining facilities.”
Do you have a specific schedule of goals for this summer’s training?
“The tasks engineer units will set out to execute throughout their rotations are the following: “
Construct concrete slab forms and steel reinforcement and place approximately 70 cubic yards for 900’ of concrete footing.
Construct masonry foundation walls using construction plans and specifications, place, square and plumb masonry units.
Excavate Freedom Park – Freedom Center foundation and begin construction on the site utilities.
Construct a Sewerage System and Construct a Water Distribution System for the Freedom Park Center in support of the New Richmond VFW under the supervision of Derrick Construction.
Are soldiers compensated for their time working on this project?
“Soldiers receive regular compensation because the training is conducted for their annual training requirement. IRT delivers a platform for service members to train in a joint environment to enhance military readiness, while building civil-military partnerships and providing key services with lasting benefits for American communities, and it is incidental to military training.”
Derrick Construction is overseeing all of the activity at the park this summer in their role as the general contractor for the project. Other civilian contractors working with the troops this summer include Lampert Architects doing the architectural drawings, CBS2 working with troops doing the surveying and underground pipe, Total Excavating out of River Falls will be supervising the excavating, Countryside Plumbing and Heating will working on the HVAC and Simon Electric will be overseeing the electrical work.