Wednesday, August 19, 2009

VA Scraps Current Developer and Plan after Lengthy Delays

(Fort Howard, MD) – After lengthy delays, the Department of Veterans Affairs just announced it has terminated the current plan to develop a veteran’s facility at Fort Howard in Baltimore County. Team Maryland, including Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (D-MD), support the VA’s search for a new developer committed to creating a high-quality, affordable community for Maryland veterans and their families.

Fort Howard Senior Housing Associates LLC, the developer, broke ground more than three years ago. The first phase of the $180 million public-private partnership for the continuing care retirement community geared toward Maryland veterans was slated to be complete this year. Construction has stalled after disagreements over cost, size, and local transportation needs.

“We have a sacred trust with the veterans who serve our country so we may live in freedom. Part of that sacred trust is making sure we provide them with the services and support they need and deserve,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). “Preserving land for veterans shows Maryland’s vets that America is with them. That’s why I will continue the fight to ensure that Fort Howard is developed in a way that is valuable to veterans and favorable to the surrounding community.”

"I am committed to working with the VA and prospective developers to provide our aging veterans with a care facility that will meet their needs,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “Our veterans were there when we needed them and now it's time for us to be there to help them meet the challenges of aging.”

“Maryland veterans risked their lives for their country. They deserve a first-rate, reasonably priced facility that will be an integral part of the community and a good neighbor to the area. I look forward to working together with our local, state, and federal partners to redevelop this area in a positive way that doesn’t negatively impact existing communities,” said Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “From the War of 1812 where Marylanders fought off the British to Fort Howard’s role as a VA Hospital until it closed in 2002, Fort Howard has been an important piece of Maryland history. Maryland veterans deserve to enjoy this facility with its gorgeous views of the Patapsco River and its proud past.

"I am hopeful that the Veteran's Administration will be able to reach an agreement with a new developer for the Fort Howard project in the near future," stated Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (D-MD). "I am confident that there are developers who will be able to work with the community and Baltimore County to create a quality living environment for our veterans who have done so much for their country."

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