Butler VA groundbreaking near
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The Butler Veterans Affairs Medical Center soon will initiate the biggest building project in its history, breaking ground next month on two new buildings on its 88-acre campus in Butler Township.
"It's an exciting time for us," said David Virag, hospital spokesman.
A single-story community-living center for longterm care of veterans, equipped with 60 private bedrooms and bathrooms, is to be built for an estimated $15 million, Mr. Virag said.
Also, a domicile for patients struggling with substance abuse is being constructed. With 56 beds, the apartment-style building will cost about $9 million.
The VA hospital currently provides services to longterm care and substance abuse patients, but Mr. Virag said the new buildings will create a more modern, nicer setting for those services.
"We're modernizing and updating. New is better," he said with a laugh.
Groundbreaking is expected late next month, and the project will take about two years to open.
An $11.6 million infusion of cash from the federal stimulus package that was approved earlier this year by Congress is allowing the VA to advance the community living center project. About $4.1 million will be directed toward the project.
"We were going to do the building in two stages but now we'll be able to complete it all at once because of the stimulus money," Mr. Virag said.
The balance of the stimulus allocation will be used for several other initiatives.
One of the biggest undertakings will be a redo of the facility's electrical system. The design and implementation will cost about $5.4 million, Mr. Virag estimated.
Also on the agenda is the replacement of boilers, $388,000; site drainage work, $1,480,000; new windows, $144,000; and renovation of a campus water tower that serves as a firefighting backup, $144,000.
"It's nice to get a little extra money to move things along and enhance our service to our veterans," Mr. Virag commented.
The VA hospital was built in 1938 by the state Department of Health as a tuberculosis sanitarium.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took over the building in 1946.
While the VA has built a series of smaller buildings on its campus over the years, Mr. Virag said the two pending construction projects are the biggest undertakings in the facility's history.
First Published May 26, 2009 12:00 am