Metro Council member blasts U.S. Veterans Affairs Dept. over Lou - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council member blasts U.S. Veterans Affairs Dept. over Louisville hospital plan

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The old "Midlands" property before sale to VA in 2012 The old "Midlands" property before sale to VA in 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Councilwoman Angela Leet is asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider how a new hospital would affect suburban fire departments, in addition to impacts on air pollution and water runoff.

She also wants an analysis of the costs and benefits of the project’s infrastructure “in order to assure an informed decision.”

Leet made the recommendations in a Nov. 30 letter to the VA, which sought input on an environmental review of the hospital that would replace the Robley Rex VA Medical Center on Zorn Avenue. The review will look at the VA’s preferred location, near Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway, and a site near Factory Lane and the Gene Snyder Freeway.

Leet’s office provided the letter to WDRB News; the VA has not yet fulfilled a U.S. Freedom of Information Act request made in early December for all of the comments it received. 

Leet, a Republican whose 7th District includes the Brownsboro Road site, says in her letter that the new review should assess the hospital’s impact on the Middletown and Lyndon fire departments, which aren’t included in Metro government’s budget. She claims that because the hospital is a federal project, those departments would not receive any funding from property assessments.

“They will be required to provide services that are not within their budgetary means. How will having to provide these new services affect not only the proposed hospital but the community as a whole?” she wrote.

VA spokeswoman Judy Williams said in a statement that Leet's comments were forwarded to the contractor preparing the environmental review "and will be addressed in the report, which has not been released at this point in time."

The VA chose the site at 4906 Brownsboro Road in 2011 and bought it a year later from a company that included Louisville businessman Jonathan Blue. The VA’s inspector general said in a report last year that the agency may have overpaid for the property by $3 million.

The new hospital would have 104 beds, diagnostic and treatment centers and a regional office for the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Leet criticized the VA for not performing the environmental review in 2011, saying the federal government “wasted resources and valuable time” by conducting a different study. She says in her letter that the VA’s “lack of objective evaluation on this project since the beginning in 2009 is astounding.”

“How the VA, an organization with such a sacred responsibility, could make so many mistakes on one project is shocking,” Leet wrote. “The veterans of this community deserve the very best hospital and I fear the mismanagement of this project and the resulting skewed decision-making will not result in a highly accessible, state-of-the-art hospital they deserve.”

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