Next steps for Fox Meadow / Dakota Ridge Published Feb. 9, 2010 By Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro 28th Bomb Wing commander ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- We've been talking a lot about all the changes on the horizon in military family housing over the next couple of years. The first major change is now coming into view--Sept. 30, the 190 houses in Fox Meadow, also known as Dakota Ridge, return to private control. These homes were never owned by the government, only leased from the Rapid City Defense Housing Corporation. That 20-year lease expires Sept. 30. That means residents of Fox Meadow have a choice to make: either sign a private lease to keep living there beyond Sept. 30, or move to another location. If residents decide to stay, the agreement they'll be signing is just like renting any other house or apartment downtown--the Air Force will have no role in the ownership or management of that home. But while the Air Force is not a party to the agreement, we will work hard to make this transition as smooth as possible. In the next couple weeks residents of Fox Meadow will receive in the mail: A copy of all their utility costs A copy of the lease that the RCDHC intends to offer you. This will show how much it would have cost you to pay utilities based on your specific usage in that specific home over the past year. You'll receive copies of the actual monthly bills as well as a summary of those statements. Further, our legal office has also already reviewed the lease RCDHC intends to offer. We've recommended some language to even further strengthen the military clause and other areas to protect you, and RCDHC has indicated they will likely incorporate those changes into the lease they offer you. Specifically, this means if you get orders to move anytime after you sign the lease, you will be able to terminate the lease to move to your new duty location. If you choose not to sign the lease and would prefer to move, the government will pay for it. As soon as six months prior to your house changing hands, March 31, you can get a government paid move, see the housing office for more information. At that time you can also choose to get on the housing list for a new base house. Folks wanting to get on the housing list should visit the housing office in the month of March to submit their information. All submissions received in March will go on the housing list as of April 1 and be listed in priority by date of rank. However, you should realize that those houses are full today. There's no rush to make these decisions. We'll require you to decide whether you want to stay or move by July 1, so that we have time to arrange moves for those that want them. But we're getting you the info as soon as possible so that you have lots time to decide. We'll also be having a town hall meeting in Fox Meadow by the end of April to help answer any questions at that time. The housing office also stands ready to answer your questions at any time (605) 385-2568. Thanks for your patience as we go through this transition.