Federally approved, plans push forward for R.I. Veterans Home
By Barbara Lipsche PBN Staff Writer
BRISTOL - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved the design concept for the new R.I. Veterans Home, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Wednesday. The new home will remain on the grounds of the current veterans home in Bristol.
According to the governor’s recommendations outlined in the fiscal 2014 budget, the new, modernized facility will feature resident-directed care models like the “Eden Alternative,” which incorporates children, nature and animals into facility life. In addition, construction will incorporate greenhouse environmental design and neighborhood living concepts, including house residences for spouses of residents.
“We must be a state that provides certainty to its veterans, who have done so much on our behalf,” Chafee said. “Last fall, Rhode Islanders expressed their desire to provide a new up-to-date facility for our state’s veterans by overwhelmingly approving Question No. 4 to issue general obligation bonds for the construction of a new veterans’ home. Today’s announcement is a great step forward in honoring our voters and our veterans.”
On the November 2012 ballot, 77 percent of Rhode Island voters approved Question No. 4, which allowed the state to issue a $94 million bond to finance a new veterans home. Durkee, Brown, Viveiros, Werenfels Architects were selected through a request for proposals to work with the Department of Human Services, Division of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Administration, Division of Capital Projects, on an engineering study, and a design and feasibility analysis.
In early April, an application for a construction grant was submitted to the VA Office of Construction and Facility Management.
With this approval, the stage has been set for a future award of matching funds by the federal government of 65 percent of the construction costs. The state now anticipates an award letter from VA Secretary, General Eric K. Shinseki, in December. The award amount is based on a tiered priority list of other approved veterans home projects from around the country. According to the VA approval, any federal matching funding will cover costs retroactively to April 23, 2013.
“The R.I. Veterans Home has served Rhode Island war veterans since 1891, and the time has come to build something that will be available for veterans for many years to come,” said Sandra M. Powell, director of the R.I. Department of Human Services. “We are pleased that this process has gone so quickly, and we look forward to moving toward a 21st-century R.I. Veterans Home that will meet the present and emerging needs of our veterans.”
The proposed timeline for design and construction consists of three phases that span the next four years. The estimated cost the entire project is $93.6 million, which includes architectural and engineering expenses.