Progress reported on home for vets
by Joyanna Love Senior Staff Writer
May 19, 2014 | 773 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Positive discussions about the proposed site of the Cleveland Bradley County State Veterans Home continued Friday.

The State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management director of Capital Projects Management Chris Remke spent the day in Cleveland discussing possible solutions to concerns.

Based on his meeting, Remke said he will be recommending a topographic and boundary survey be done on the site.

“The State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management group is advancing efforts to support the VA project. Based upon the supporting efforts of the land donors and local government officials and following meetings today [Friday] to review the preliminary commitments of the stakeholders, the State of Tennessee is authorizing the site diligence activities to include a topographic and boundary survey. This is an important next step to advancing the interest of the design effort, and to permit the working group to appropriately document the supporting commitments of each party, the working group is encouraged and optimistic,” Remke said.

Meetings Friday included discussions with land donors Steve Williams and Thomas Williams, state Rep. Kevin Brooks and civil engineer Wayne McCoy. Land donor Robert Wright was not able to attend Friday, but Steve Williams said all of the land donors have met “numerous times” to discuss ways to resolve site concerns.

“I feel like they came in with an attitude of let’s make this site work,” Steve Williams said.

He said he felt “very good” about the discussions in Friday’s gatherings.

Remke also visited the proposed site “to validate some information on the property.”

Solutions to concerns that STREAM had voiced previously about the site were presented and discussed. Specific details and commitments by those willing to make them happen continues to be a work in progress.

“While we are not completely wrapped up, we are definitely working with a much shorter list [of concerns],” Remke said.

The original list of concerns included the narrow shape of the site, its slope, the soil and fill that exist on-site, the location’s accessibility and its visibility from the road.

Access to the site is one issue for which a detailed solution has been outlined. Discussions also have involved the road into the veterans home being accepted as a city road to address accessibility and visibility concerns.

Steve Williams said the need for 40-foot retainer walls may also have been eliminated, but details from the survey are needed for confirmation.

Initial concerns about the site’s topography were based on outdated information, Remke said.

“The site is in much better condition than that initial information led us to believe,” Remke said.

The information STREAM had initially used was based on site conditions prior to the completion of grading, Steve Williams said.

Having the land survey completed will provide more detailed information to move forward with architectural work for the site. Remke said developing a schematic for the site and sending it to the state Veterans Administration would then be the next step.

Remke said he believed detailed plans for overcoming concerns with the site could be developed in “120 days or so.”

A detailed list of how each concern will be addressed and a written agreement of who will complete the needed work would also be developed.

“There is a lot more discussion that needs to happen to make sure everyone is comfortable with their role,” Yvette Martinez, assistant commissioner of Outreach and Communications for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, said in a phone interview Friday.

Martinez said establishing a state veterans home is a series of problem-solving phases “and we’ve entered a new phase.”

“I feel like we have great dialogue,” Martinez said

After STREAM makes a recommendation to the Veterans Affairs office on how the concerns with the site will be addressed, the Veterans Affairs office, the Tennessee State Veterans Home Board and STREAM would have to agree that the action plan is acceptable before further progress can be made.