Corps of Engineers gives go-ahead for $141 upstate VA project; second phase requires congressional approval

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Canandaigua Veterans Affairs Medical Campus.

Construction funding totaling $141 million has been allocated for an upgrade to an upstate New York veterans medical center, bringing at least part of a long-awaited project from concept to actual construction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue construction bids next month for the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs Medical Campus. The money will be used for renovations and new buildings, including an 84,200-sq. ft. outpatient clinic.

The VA initially recommended closing the Finger Lakes facility before deciding to implement a major reconstruction project instead to modernize it. Although funding was approved in December 2014, the process of soliciting contracts for the project had not begun.

The Corps of Engineers expects to award the construction contract next January.

The Canandaigua  Daily Messenger reported in March that veterans can expect a new outpatient clinic and main building renovations with no guarantee of additional promised upgrades — and the story about a makeover of the campus, originally built in 1933, has gone on for more than a decade.

Then, the center survived a threatened closure with a recommendation from then Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi to receive a makeover to serve veterans in the 21st century.

Fast forward 13 years later with the plan yet to materialize over delays rooted in politics, bureaucratic hurdles and other obstacles, the Daily Messenger reports.

Canandaigua VA construction project manager David Price said the clinic likely won’t be ready before 2020.

However, the second phase of the entire $309 million project still needs congressional approval.

This phase includes construction a Community Living Center providing long-term care in a homey setting with modern cottages on the 150-acre campus. It would also include renovation of Building 9 for domiciliary services, which provides residential care for veterans suffering from homelessness and other debilitating conditions. Price said he expects approval of this phase late this year or in 2018.

“Things move slowly, but we are seeing some traction,” Price said.