Private development of St. Albans Veterans Affairs facility still a possibility

July 14, 2011 05:50PM

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillebrand and the St. Albans Veterans Affairs facility

A long-opposed project once thought dead that would privatize part of the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing facilities in St. Albans, Queens, was given new life, the Queens Chronicle reported. The proposal was for a private developer to build housing and retail while replacing the aging Veterans Affairs facilities with a new nursing home, rehabilitation center and expanded outpatient facilities. But opponents demanded a full-service hospital rather than private development. In June the House of Representatives passed the Veterans Care Act as an amendment to the military appropriations bill, which blocked partial privatization of the St. Albans VA site. But the Senate left that amendment out of its version of the bill.

While the original privatization plan is dead, according to Rep. Gregory Meeks who introduced the bill to the House, there’s nothing stopping the VA from leasing it to another developer for a different purpose. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said there was no need to pursue the amendment because the original plan had been dropped before it got to the State Senate. But opponents fear that the plan was dropped to avoid attention from the Senate, only to later restart efforts once the bill is passed without the Veterans Care Act. [Queens Chronicle]