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Fate of Grand Island Veterans Home undecided

December 31, 2018

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Officials haven’t decided what will happen to the buildings on the Grand Island Veterans Home campus after residents are transferred to their new home in Kearney in January.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced in 2015 the state would return the current 640-acre (259-hectare) site to the city of Grand Island in two phases. The first phase in 2016 included turning over most of the land that held recreation areas and crop fields. The second phase includes the rest of the property. On it sits the veterans home buildings and a cemetery.

The city hasn’t completed its plans for the property yet.

“We haven’t signed the dotted line saying we will take these buildings,” Grand Island City Administrator Marlan Ferguson told The Grand Island Independent . “It’s expensive for the upkeep, and we are figuring out what we want to do with them. There are some options we have there, and various veterans groups have been involved.”

The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs will maintain control of the campus until all equipment is removed from the buildings. The state Department of Administrative Services then will assume control and deal with the city, Ferguson said.

The buildings have about 280,000 square feet (26,013 square meters) of usable space, officials have said. It hasn’t been determined what buildings will be kept or demolished and what the costs would be. Officials also have said $4 million in demolition money would come from the state.

“Once the buildings are vacant we can see what’s there and see what we can use and not use,” Ferguson said.

Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings and North Platte all competed for the project to replace the outdated, 225-bed Grand Island facility. Plans are for the 95 or so residents to eat breakfast at their old home on Jan. 16 and lunch at their new home 34 miles (55 kilometers) away in Kearney.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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