REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL (WAFF) - Every day, thousands pass through the gates of Redstone Arsenal. And in 2019, a new policy is being implemented to allow the public to have more access to the Army installation.
They’re implementing a new rules, geared at streamlining access procedures. Eligible guests no longer need an escort.
Starting in January, anyone who is not affiliated with Redstone can get an installation access badge after passing a background check at the Gate 9 Visitors Center.
That badge will allow the general public access to recreational and various Family and MWR activities on post.
Redstone Arsenal officials want more families to be able to come out and enjoy things like the bowling alley, golf course, camp sites and eateries.
Lieutenant General Edward Daly, Redstone Arsenal's senior commander, touched on efforts to expand access in his recent State of the Arsenal address.
"We're looking into scanners and enabling chip entry to reduce wait time even further. We have implemented the Trusted Traveler Program, enabling drivers of vehicles entering post to vouch for their passengers. Our goal is to continue our investment on the north side of the gate in redefining the fence line to enable access for community use of our recreational venues," Daly explained.
The new procedures make it easier for friends and family members of Arsenal employees to visit for lunch or dinner, attend sporting events on post or take advantage of the recreational offerings.
Food delivery services and ride-sharing businesses will be able to travel on and off-post – with the requirement that the driver pass a background check and obtain the installation access badge.
Colonel Kelsey Smith, Garrison Commander, spoke about the changes with local media outlets on Friday.
“The most important thing that I would like everyone to understand is that the installation access policy is realistically now change to our security posture. What we continuing to do is provide additional access to post that’s already provided, however, to abbreviate the process,” he explained.
Previously, installation access was granted to a civilian by being sponsored by a dependent or ID card holder. They would submit themselves to a National Crime Information Center check to verify that they don’t have any felonies that are a specific concern to the U.S. military. Once they were cleared, they would be provided access to the installation, based on their need to visit a friend or use recreational facilities.
“We will still continue to provide that capability, however, we are eliminating the requirement to be sponsored by a credentialed dependent or credentialed military member,” Col. Smith stated.
Visitors wanting a badge in 2019 will still submit to a background check and will be issued a one year access card.
Redstone Arsenal has also implemented the Trusted Traveler program.
“Which is one of our ways to assist the city and the county to reduce traffic congestion in such as a credentialed member, either holding a DOD ID card, an FBI ID card, or a NASA ID card, can vouch for every person in their car in order to keep us from having to check 4-6 ID cards at the gate. That will reduce the congestion we experience at Gate 9 and others,” he added.
The benefit to the installation is that their golf course, bowling alley, arts and crafts centers and auto skills center will get more patrons. Colonel Smith believes it will increase patronage by about 20%.
The access card will not provide access to AAFES stores. You will be not be able to buy gas or use the commissary or Category A MWR facilities like gymnasiums. Those are for beneficiaries only.
“This pass is something we already do but we find that it is one step more difficult because you need a sponsor to come in. We are capable of running an NCIC check and validating that the person is trusted to move on the post, we eliminate the sponsor requirement and we are able to provide an access card within about 15 minutes,” Colonel Smith said.
At The Summit, you can have conventions and weddings. Right now, a couple planning a wedding has to get a set for passes for all of the guests. In 2019, guests can get a pass on their own and come in on their own because it will no longer be required for visitors to be escorted by a family member or DOD card holder.
If interested in obtaining a badge for access to Redstone Arsenal, go to the Visitor’s Center on Rideout Road. You’ll be asked to fill out an application and provide your Social Security number and Drivers License number. A background check will be done. If you pass the criminal history check, a card will be issued.
“Redstone Arsenal belongs to Huntsville. We would like to be able to express our partnership with the city and the community members and invite them here to see what it’s all about,” Colonel Smith said. “We have plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy leisure and recreation as well as visit your friends and family. We believe it’s our opportunity to extend our hand and make it a bit easier while at the same time, not compromising our security.”
The changes go into effect January 1st.
To be eligible for an access badge, you have to be over 18, have a clean criminal background and be a U.S. citizen.
The badge is good for one year.