Saturday, June 4, 2011

Meeks and King to block VA development

From the Queens Chronicle:

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and Rep. Peter King (R-Nassau) have introduced a bill that would prohibit the planned private development of the St. Albans Veteran’s Administration site.

The St. Albans project has been a source of controversy for years, with the VA believing that replacing the existing facilities with a new nursing home, rehabilitation domiciliary and expanded outpatient facilities is the way to go, despite consistent opposition from many veterans. A private developer would build the facilities in exchange for a long-term lease on part of the site where it would put up housing and stores open to the general public.

Many vets, however, are against any lease to a private entity and instead want a full-service hospital there, so servicemen and women in Queens and Nassau counties don’t have to travel to Brooklyn and Manhattan for care.

Meeks said if the bill passes, the government will not be able to override it and it will effectively kill the project. When asked where the money would come from to repair the VA site and for the full service hospital, Meeks noted that the facility was about 15th in line to receive federal funding for repairs. The enhanced use lease process just bumped it up in line.

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