NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Recent changes at Naval Complex New Orleans have thrust this city to the top of the list for Sailors looking to make a permanent change of station move.
"There's little doubt that New Orleans is becoming more and more attractive for Sailors who are up for orders, especially with the construction of Public-Private Venture Housing and the Belle Chasse Academy charter school aboard the base," said Capt. Stanley Hudson, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) New Orleans.
The Department of the Navy's presence and mission in the New Orleans region has grown considerably in recent years, and is expected to continue to expand. At present, approximately 4,000 Sailors are stationed in the area.
Now, about 80 percent of Navy families reside in privately owned housing throughout the area, paying market rent and competing for adequate, available homes. But soon, more Sailors will be enjoying a higher quality of life on-base, and at a reasonable price.
Ground was broken last November for Public-Private Venture (PPV)housing at NAS JRB New Orleans last November, and a ribbon cutting ceremony in June saw the first two families presented with keys to their new homes.
PPV housing allows a private contractor to build family housing aboard a military installation for military members. Rental rates will equal the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) of that military member, less an amount for normal utility usage.
By October of 2003 there will be 525 units ready for occupancy and another 216 units completely renovated. When all of the work is completed 935 new or renovated homes will be available for military families in the region.
PPV Housing is not new to the military, with successful Navy projects already completed in San Diego; Ingleside, Texas; and Everett, Wash. New Orleans is the latest addition to this new approach to provide modern, affordable homes for military families.
What is entirely new to the Navy, and New Orleans, is Belle Chasse Academy (BCA). The academy will be the first public charter school in the nation to be built on a military installation.
The school is scheduled to open this fall and will serve students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The first year enrollment is expected to be approximately 600 students and is expected to expand to 900 or more students in subsequent years. Currently, more than 3,000 school-age children of active-duty military service members live in the greater New Orleans area.
"We are looking to complete our enrollment process for 600 students in July," said Ms. Cindy LeFort, administrative assistant at the school. "We will be full for this fall, and expect to go to 900 students by next year. Children of active duty military are given first consideration."
The structure itself is a two-story building with 37 spacious classrooms, and additional resource rooms for foreign language, counseling, and other special curriculum. There is also a gymnasium, cafeteria, media center/library, office space, and a new youth center area, which replaces the existing youth center on the school site. Computers, internet-access, and cable TV will be available in each classroom. School doors open Sept. 5.
Information about the academy, including construction progress updates, may be viewed at its Web site: www.bellechasseacademy.com.
PPV housing and the BCA, plus the availability of on base modern bachelor quarters in New Orleans, has made the area an even stronger draw for all Sailors who are up for orders.
"I think the new housing and especially the Belle Chasse Academy will make new Orleans a very attractive area for service members and their children," said Chief Navy Counselor (SW) Jim Nicholson, command career counselor for NAS JRB New Orleans. "I've had a number of inquiries, especially those Sailors with children. I always get questions about schools in the area. The housing and the school only add to the positive aspects of the New Orleans experience. It's also definite boost to retention in this area."
For more information on NAS JRB New Orleans, go to www.nasjrbnola.navy.mil. For more Naval Reserve news, visit their News Stand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nrf.