A petition has been created to keep one River Valley community on the list of potential sites for a multimillion dollar veteran’s home.
Chaffee Crossing Director Ivy Owen said he’s spent thousands of dollars on signs and promotional events, to get a veterans home in Fort Smith, but because of a rule that dictates where the home can be, that money may just have been wasted.
The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs received dozens of applications from cities wanting to be the site of a veterans home to replace a Little Rock home that shut down. The list was narrowed down to 20, and Fort Smith made the cut. However, some city officials are less optimistic because of restrictions.
“I’m not very happy,” Owen said. “If they had known about these regulations being in place and allowed us to go through all this theatrical presentation of putting this task force site visit together, spending all the money that we spent.”
Owen said the home that could be built at the Chafee Crossing hit a snag after a rule popped up saying the replacement home for Little Rock can’t be more than two hours away.
“It’s just not right” said Owen. It’s not the way to do business.”
One state representative says the two-hour rule should not play a factor in the decision.
“Distance is not an issue,” said George McGill . “Care is the issue.”
Sissy Rucker, director of Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, said the building site should not be located near hazardous locations, including industrial developments, airports and railways.
Rucker said that rule had been in place before they picked possible sites for the veterans home.
“Just think of it, a veterans home that will house anywhere from 150 to 175 veterans,” said Mcgill. “Think of all the supporting business that spring up around it.”
Rucker said most veterans are in central Arkansas and brought up the veterans home in Fayetteville, where there are 40 vacant beds.
She said her department is re-evaluating where the smartest location to house the veterans would be.
“We`re going to replace a veterans home and our men and women that have served us so faithfully will have a place,” said McGill.
Rucker also said they are looking at 20 potential sites and hope to make a decision by the end of the year.
Wherever the home ends up, ground could break on the project by 2015.
Chaffee Crossing supporters have started an online petition to keep the community in the running. To sign the petition, CLICK HERE.