Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Masterminds of space lay out, manage Fort Riley infrastructure

By Suet Lee-Growney | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | October 06, 2017

     Editor’s Note: This story is part one of a three-part series on the Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division.

     If Fort Riley were a town, the garrison commander would be the mayor and Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division would be the city planning office, said BJ Watson, DPW planning division chief, and Jeff Mataruso, DPW master planner.

     “We’re serving as the city planning office for the installation and our products should not only account for what we have on hand, but provide for an orderly development of the installation out to the foreseeable future,” Watson said. “Because we not only put that plan in place, but we also account for everything we have at hand already.”

     The master planners have records on all the existing facilities, buildings, roads and more. They index all past, present and future space on Fort Riley.

     “There is a master planning branch of the division that does forward looking plans out till 20 years for installation development,” Watson said. These projects include new buildings, prior site developments and forecast the number of Soldiers and units that will be stationed here, how to provide space for infrastructure utilities. Everything from buildings and parking areas around the buildings, to the road network and infrastructure to support those developments.”

 

REAL PROPERTY PLANNING AND ANALYSIS SYSTEM

     The RPLANS database identifies and sums up all the infrastructure on Fort Riley.

     “It takes our, what we call them as assets, anything that is a facility, a building, a road, a parking lot — anything like that — and identifies it in a database,” Watson said. “And that database feeds the total amount of square footage into a separate database that says ‘OK, this is what we have on hand.’ These are the facilities we have to use.”

     This Army-wide database helps the master planners manage the population on post and balance the deficits and surpluses of facilities on the installation. This information is what drives all planning decisions.

    “We are either balanced, we have what we need to accomplish our mission, or we have a deficit where we don’t have enough facilities on hand to accommodate a mission,” Watson said. “Or it identifies that we have too much space on hand … Anybody in the Army can log into it and see whether we have positives or negatives … that helps drive planning decisions, like how many more barracks do we need to build, for example, based on the number of troops we have here today and forecast. It forecasts out five years to determine if we anticipate another unit coming here.”

     Master planners use RPLANS as a baseline tool to control real estate and establish planning factors in Fort Riley.

     “They are planning factors, tools that we use to be able to control the real estate here and to abide by the regulatory guidance that we’ve set in the past,” Mataruso said.

 

INSTALLATION GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM

     Installation GIS is the geographic data of Fort Riley that goes on a map, according to Joe Gritton, DPW installation geographic information and spatial data manager.

     “Anything you can go on a map, so you got aerial imagery, aerial photography of the ground, all the infrastructure that we at Public Works manage, roads, buildings, utilities,” Gritton said. “We manage range data, we work with ITAMS (Integrated Training Area Management System) in that regard.”

     Additionally, Gritton said they share the geographical information with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, the Environmental Division and more.

     “We share data with (DPTMS) so we’ve got range data,” he said. “We’ve also got environmental data, like bird habitats and contaminated areas — if they can go on a map, we keep track of it … and we use that data to map maps and other data products. And we share that data with Soldiers, who will use our data for training purposes.”

     The biggest GIS software in the world, ArcGIS, is the mapping platform the master planners at DPW use. According to Watson, the installation GIS can be used to manage the area, much like the private sector, and is a go-to point when it comes to making plans.

     “The private sector uses GIS to manage cities and infrastructure and things,” he said. “We do that similarly. The key challenge is data maintenance, keeping it up so that it’s accurate based on what infrastructure is in its place, if it’s in the right place, if it can be identified … You can select the different shape that is in there, when you’re in the software, and it’ll tell you it’s a water pipe, and it’s this long, and it’s this size, and all those things. It’s good use for future projects, good for unit to use if they need to know something about a range, or an exercise that they’re planning for. It’s kind of a one-stop shop for the spatial data that we have.”

 

DEVELOPING AND MAINTAIN­ING COMPONENTS TO INSTAL­LATION MASTER PLAN

      The current vision for Fort Riley’s master plan was created in 2012. It divides the post up into separate sectors for more specific planning.

     “The update has been in progress probably since 2013 when we got that directive,” Watson said. “The first component that went together was the overall vision plan for the whole installation. And what it does it is it identifies a vision statement and some planning goals that is supposed to drive the planning goals for the other camps within the installation. It also divided Fort Riley into six different, separate districts for further planning.”

     Since then, master planners would look at these districts in detail in separate years and make sure updates are made to meet the post visions framework. Mataruso said the planning growth also involves people outside the Master Planning Division.

     “A consultant comes in and guides us through this planning process and we invite several key players of installation, including the garrison commander,” he said.

      During this planning process, all factors that have a stake in the infrastructure are taken into regard before making a plan.

     “When we plan one of these individual districts, that we call them, there is Army mission that is taken into consideration, there is community support facilities that are taken into consideration, there’s a lot of discussion about road network because traffic is always something that is a concern to everybody’s mind,” Watson said. “Utility, infrastructure, improvements that might need to happen and, at the end of the planning session, we determine what is the Regulating Plan, which is the same thing as a zoning plan for a city.”

     There is an installation planning board that usually happens about once a year and a real property planning board, which is what the master planners are responsible for. It is during this planning board they talk about the status of the installation plan, identify strategies, approve projects, talk about future plans and more.

    “Installation planning board is a little more comprehensive and covers more topics outside of real property,” Watson said. “But the real property planning board is comparable to a city planning commission type board … garrison directorates are often part of that board and there we have a meeting and typically on the agenda we have a review of the (installation) plan and have a status if there is any products that is ready for approval.”

 

SPACE UTILIZATION

     Apart from developing the area within Fort Riley, the present area needs to be managed as well. The space manager, Kyle Ochs, DPW Planning Division station manager, is like the landlord of Fort Riley, Mataruso said.

     “He has a very big job here at the installation,” he said. “Brigades needs space? Kyle meets with them. They do a formal request and Kyle helps to make those decisions to determine space. We are not just about development, we are about how to manage space too.”

      Watson said the challenge to space management is to use it in according to Army standards and keep control of it.

     Most people hear about the big picture projects as they are portrayed in briefings and presentations, but it takes the work of engineering technicians behind the scenes to pull together all the products and visuals required to compete for limited funding, Mataruso said. Their efforts and detailed work are often what makes all the planning a reality.

      Behind all these big picture projects, decisions and stationing, Mataruso said there are the drafting technicians who help get those products to completion.