By Cherly Dilgard
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – Tierra Kay housing is getting a face lift. The housing area that was once considered condemned has been revamped to make it suitable for living. Now TK is getting an additional gracing to improve the quality of life for the troopers attached to Joint Task Force.
Thanks to funds made available through the Global War on Terrorism fund, the Combined Bachelor Quarters – the office that manages all of the bachelor quarters for both JTF and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay – have been given $3.1 million dollars to spend on updates and furniture for naval station and JTF quarters.
"They went all out," said Edward Karabinus, the CBQ manager. "The Navy went with a whole room concept. They didn't look at price as much as quality. They purchased really nice name brand stuff, mostly Thomasville furniture."
Karabinus works closely with the JTF commandant, Army Sgt. Maj. Matt Aragon. Although the CBQ has the ultimate authority, Aragon acts a liaison between military personnel and the CBQ to ensure work is done, conduct inspections and assist troopers with housing issues.
"As the JTF commandant I monitor the TK housing as well as Cuzco," Aragon said. "When the contractors finish up the construction and renovations I do the inspections to make sure that the Troopers quarters are fixed properly."
Of the 150 houses located in the TK area, 94 have been updated to date, with the rest soon to follow.
"It takes about two weeks to do all the renovations needed to a house," Aragon noted. "It is a little inconvenient – we move the troopers to Camp America for the two weeks of renovations, but when they get back into their houses, they get new clean updated housing. We are currently working on four homes at a time so renovations are going quick."
The renovations include wood laminate flooring, new carpet, new bathrooms and new furniture. After the current renovations are completed, the CBQ has plans to install new, more energy efficient air conditioning units.
The plans to improve the TK housing area are not just limited to physical appearance. There are plans to have an onsite resident manager available to assist troopers. The JTF commandant will also be moving and having an office in the TK housing area.
With all of the updates, the CBQ management urges troopers to take care of their housing.
"It is disappointing when we spend so much time and effort fixing up the quarters for Troopers, then they punch holes in the walls or just don't take care of where they live," Karabinus said. Troopers can be held financially responsible for damage to housing.
"All occupants of multi-resident housing units are personally responsible for the furniture in common areas and the common areas of the house," states the Bachelor Housing Standard Operating Procedures. "Regardless of whether they signed a receipt for the property. In the event that common area furniture or common areas themselves get damaged, all residents are held financially responsible. If you do not report a resident in your home that has damaged property, then you will be held responsible for it as well."
Another concern for CBQ management is troopers moving from house to house without permission. The proper procedure is to go through your chain of command, which will include getting permission from the JTF commandant, and then getting approval from the CBQ office.
"We have to know where people are living,' Karabinus said. "In case of a hurricane or other emergency situation, we need to be able to tell the commands where everyone is located. If people are moving around and not telling us, we can't do our jobs."
The TK housing project is projected to be completed in the near future, although a definite completion date has not been set.
"With Sgt. Maj. Aragon in charge, this has been getting under control," Karabinus said. "He is doing a great job and we work well together. He does a good job of taking care of the troopers."