New organization pushes to have new VA Hospital built in downtow - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New organization pushes to have VA Hospital built in downtown Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WDRB) If you thought the battle over the location of the new VA Hospital was over, think again.

There's a new grassroots effort to have the hospital built downtown.

It's a new group called Grow Smart Louisville. And even though the property for the new hospital has been purchased in eastern Louisville, they insist it's not too late to make a move.

"We're trying to figure out how and why that decision was made and if it's possible to change that decision," said founder Eric Gunderson.

That's why marketing pro Eric Gunderson and a few friends created Grow Smart Louisville.

Their goal is to build enough support to convince the VA to abandon plans to build a new hospital on this site off Brownsboro Rd., and instead locate in the downtown medical center.

Gunderson says it would benefit the downtown economy and the veterans.

"It seems to us to be a no-brainer. You've got that medical campus already there. You're going to be sharing resources. It will help to attract better talent. It will provide better care for the veterans."

But is Grow Smart Louisville just tilting at windmills here? The VA has already purchased this site for some 13-million dollars. But Gunderson insists it's not too late to make a change.

"If we sit back and don't say anything and don't question why they're doing some of the things that they are doing, they'll probably go ahead and build it there, and that's really not the best long-term future for our veterans or for the community as a whole. So that's why we're trying to get them to re-think it."

But what about those who will use the hospital? Veterans we talked to at this charity event say they have questions about the Brownsboro Rd. location, but wouldn't be crazy about a downtown site either.

"I don't think it should be downtown, it's congested enough there. The space they're putting it out on Brownsboro Rd., they're going to have to build an awful tall building because there's not much parking there," said Navy veteran Tim Bowman.

"Louisville's sort of tough to drive in for a lot of people. And I'd say if it was in some location where they didn't feel like they were at the Indy 500 when they come in here, it would be OK," said Army veteran Paul Cibolski.

But Gunderson, who was director of parking and traffic for the Louisville Arena Authority, doesn't believe congestion will be an issue.

"There are way more entrance and exit ramps plus secondary streets into and out of downtown than there are to this Brownsboro Rd. spot, where there's only one entrance and exit ramp from the Watterson. So it's far more accessible."

Grow Smart Louisville has a web site with information and ways to support its cause. It's www.growsmartlouisville.org.

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