Running Horse VA Medical Center Location Questioned

December 22, 2008 2:03:47 PM PST
The man in charge of Fresno's VA Medical Center is questioning if the former Running Horse development is really the best place for the new veterans home. But the committee that's been planning the new VA home for five years says it's too late for change. The man in charge of Fresno's VA Medical Center is questioning if the former Running Horse development is really the best place for the new veterans home. But the committee that's been planning the new VA home for five years says it's too late for change.

The director of the VA hospital in Fresno said if the new veteran's home would move in across the street from the hospital, Fresno could become the primary center for veteran's services in the Valley. But the committee that's been planning the new VA home for five years says it's too late.

Bill Dietzel publishes a veteran's magazine for 400-thousand readers out of his Fresno home. A veteran himself, Dietzel says putting a much-needed veteran's home on this empty land right across the street from the VA hospital isn't a bad idea.

Dietzel said, "I think it's an excellent idea. But I don't see it happening. Just don't see it happening. Everything is on set, on go street."

A local veterans group chose the Running Horse Golf Course site for the 144-million dollar VA home. They say, as of march first no changes can be made to the contract.

Still, Al Perry the director of the VA hospital is urging veterans to consider the now vacant land across Clinton Avenue.

Perry said, "Knowing we have to support residents of the State Veteran's Home it would certainly be more convenient from our standpoint to take medical care to them across the street. Or have them be a part of our event here, or public transportation here."

It was Perry's letter to the editor in the Fresno Bee that stirred up the controversy. In it he wrote, while veterans home residents would surely enjoy a golf course view, there are significant benefits to this new location. It would become "the" center for veteran's services in the Valley.

Chuck Purnell is president of the Veterans Home Foundation that tried to work with Donald Trump when he was interested in buying Running Horse. They've spent five long years getting that site approved.

He says his group was approached about the property near the VA Hospital, it just isn't right.

Purnell said, "It was smaller than the site we already have. So that wasn't viable. The location wasn't good. It's in the flight pattern of the airport."


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