VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Vacation lodging for military families took another giant leap forward with the grand opening of 16 new beach cottages at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Dam Neck Annex, April 26.
The new two- and three-bedroom cottages offer deluxe accommodations: kitchens, washers and dryers, gas fireplaces, DVD players, wide screen televisions, high-speed Internet and luxury linens. Two of the cottages were constructed using the Americans with Disabilities Accessible (ADA) standards.
In addition to the new construction, three former housing units, located on Regulus Avenue, across the street from the cottages, were converted to weekly vacation rentals for military members and their families.
Commander Navy Mid-Atlantic Region Rear Adm. Rick Ruehe
was the guest speaker for the grand opening and he explained the importance of providing recreational facilities to the military.
"Our job here at Navy Region Mid-Atlantic is to support the warfighters and their families to ensure that our Navy has the necessary quality of life resources and support," said Ruehe. "One of the vital elements in that (quality of life) is Morale, Welfare and Recreation because you worked so hard to put together and build such a wonderful site to help increase the morale and readiness of Sailors heading to the 'tip of the spear.'"
"Enjoyable time spent with family and friends, right here at the beach, directly contribute to our national security," Ruehe added.
The construction and opening of the cottages was a cooperative effort between Naval Installations Command (NIC), the Mid-Atlantic Region MWR and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Works Department, Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division, Mid-Atlantic Region Environmental Office and Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Program Manager Support Services.
The idea for the cottages were proposed nearly two decades ago to NIC; but it was during the last 10 years when MWR employees began to make the idea a reality.
"There's been a pent-up demand for this service for the last two decades. As a result, a great deal of hard work by many, many people in various parts of the Navy came to offer these vacation cottages with all the amenities," said NAS Oceana Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Lorge during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Conversion of the former housing units was the result of using available resources wisely.
"Rather than having Lincoln Housing demolish the units as part of their improvement process, they were turned over to MWR, who refurbished them and outfitted them as vacation rentals," Lorge explained.
Lorge emphasized that taxpayers' money was not used for the cottages. Construction costs of more than $2.6 million was funded by the reinvesting "Sailors' dollars," money spent by military and family members at MWR facilities.
The way the building was constructed is a first for Navy MWR, according to NAS Oceana and Dam Neck Annex MWR Director Lynne Flynn.
Construction was completed by driving 320 wooden piles in the sand, then bringing the building in by sections and assembling it on site. Using the modular construction technique saved money and allowed the cottages to be completed much faster. Selection of construction materials was carefully done to take in account the effects of the marine environment.
Another first for MWR was the idea of sharing existing services with the Dam Neck Visitors' Quarters (VQs), such as housekeeping and reservations. Flynn explained it allows services to be delivered more economically to both the cottages and the VQs.
Ten more cottages are planned in a second phase of the project, which Lorge explained is "moving through the approval process" with an anticipated answer late this summer.
The beach cottages are available on a weekly rental from Saturday to Sunday. For more information about renting the cottages, contact the Navy Inn and Suites (formerly known as the Visitors' Quarters) at (757) 492-7013/7014.
For more news from Naval Air Station Oceana, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/oceana/.