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Base community partnership initiative kicks off with 'field of dreams'

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The ongoing clearing of a ball field located near Patrick AFB's south housing area is the first step of innovation for Team Patrick-Cape's partnership initiative with the community.

A memorandum of agreement, effective Sept. 1, between the 45th Space Wing and Satellite Beach, Florida, provided the foundation for the community's long-term use of one of the wing's multi-purpose athletic fields located in South Patrick Housing.

"As good stewards of the community, we see it as our responsibility to pursue useful and effective partnerships that deliver needed community services, in turn, building and fostering a greater sense of community for our Airmen, their families and our neighbors," said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander.

The first initiative was in action once a memorandum of agreement was signed locally in July and Satellite Beach began mowing their new field.

"This keystone initiative provides added quality of life programs for both the military and the general public," said Pam Jordan, Patrick Air Force Base Airman and Family Services flight chief.

The base teamed up with Satellite Beach to open the ball field to the public as the first Air Force community partnership initiative for Team Patrick-Cape and its neighbors.

"It is going to make a world of difference for our programs," said Kerry Stoms, Satellite Beach David R. Schechter Center director. "The field provides an enhancement to our ball fields and a possibility for future growth."

Stoms said she hopes to have some of the seasons remaining football games move out of the cramped spaces they currently play to the freshly mowed larger fields near South Patrick Housing. They plan to start utilizing the field full-time by the time soccer season starts in October.

Military families are already a part of the Satellite Beach football and soccer programs. Hundreds of children have joined the football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse leagues throughout the year to play sports within the Satellite Beach's two mile radius.

"With military housing in the Satellite Beach community, our residents take great pride in serving both their nation and their community," said Monteith. "As part of that service, our Airman are active in city council meetings and have listened to other's ideas on ways to improve the community with existing assets."

Base and community leaders invested in the Air Force's Community Partnership Initiative, a framework through which installation, public and private sector community leaders can develop creative ways to leverage their capabilities and resources to reduce costs or reduce risks by finding shared value and benefit.

"One of those ideas brought back to us was turning some unused land in South Housing into a ball field," said Monteith.  "We took the idea, up channeled it and it came back approved as a win-win for both the base and the community. Not only did our team come up with the idea we also benchmarked the time it took to get these types of requests through the approval process.  I call that a win all the way around."

The recently signed memorandum of agreement also opens a door to the city's dream of one day having a 15-year lease to make the field home to the Seahawks football team, Storms said.

For base leaders, leasing the ball field is a step forward to align more of the base's sports and instructional programs with the Schechter Center. 

"Allowing non-DOD civilians to use Patrick AFB facilities and property is beneficial to both military members and civilians, which, in turn, allows our military to participate in Satellite Beach sports and instructional programs," said Maj. Nate Somers, 45th Force Support Squadron commander. "This fosters positive community relationships and builds esprit de corps within our community."

When the second community partnership initiative becomes effective, the 45th Space Wing will extend eligibility to Satellite Beach community families to participate in the Patrick AFB Youth Center's school age child care and open recreation programs.
The 45th FSS team, in partnership with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, will continue to discuss future possibilities for Team Patrick-Cape facilities and real estate.

For more information about current Patrick AFB Youth programs, visit http://www.gopatrickfl.com/youth-programs.html.

For more information about the Schechter Center, go to: http://www.satellitebeachrecreation.org/Pages/DavidRSchechterCommunityCenter.aspx