Veterans home site deadline approaches

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

While nothing is official yet, a local economic development director is optimistic a site in Leavenworth County will be submitted for a possible state veterans home.

"We hope to have at least something to submit by the deadline," said Steve Jack, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation.

The deadline for notifying the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs of an intent to submit a proposal is noon Nov. 2. Proposals are due by 2 p.m. Nov. 16.

In March, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order calling on the director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a grant for the construction of a veterans home in northeast Kansas.

The KCVA is now looking for possible sites for the state veterans home. The agency issued a request for proposals last month.

The RFP indicates the KCVA is looking for a site along the Interstate 70 corridor from Junction City to Kansas City, Kansas, or north along Kansas 7 Highway to Lansing and Leavenworth.

Jack said officials with Pioneer Group, which has a long-term lease on many of the buildings on the grounds of the Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, had thought they may have an opportunity to compete for the veterans home site.

"But the way the RFP is written, it doesn't look like they do," Jack said.

The RFP states that the federal grant requires the property selected for the veterans home to be owned by the KCVA and leased sites will not be considered.

The RFP stated that desired "greenfield" building sites should encompass 25 to 50 acres of land.

Jack said it is a challenge to find this much land serviced by utilities that is "just sitting there."

He said a submission for a site in Leavenworth County may end up focusing on an existing building that can be retrofitted to serve the needs of the veterans home.

"We want to make sure they know we'd like it here, but it might be easier to find a building that could be retroed," Jack said.

The state already operates two veterans homes, but neither is located in northeast Kansas.

A negotiating committee will review the submitted proposals for sites for the new state veterans home and determine which one is the most suitable. Once this determination has been made, negotiations may begin for the property, according to the RFP.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR