Gov. Ruth Ann Minner Thursday signed legislation she proposed earlier in the week accelerating the construction of the state’s first veterans home by waiving bid laws and using a process in which a project is designed and construction gets underway at the same time.
Minner, who initially opposed the move, decided to back it because it would help ensure that the state receives more federal funding for the project if the project is "fast-tracked.".
The next question regarding the proposed veterans home, now that the first step has been taken, is where it will be located. Sussex County officials have urged that it be built there -- given the ongoing explosion in the growth of the county’s senior population, many of whom are veterans. Two Sussex legislators -- state Senators George H. Bunting Jr. and Robert Venables, co-sponsored the legislation along with state Representatives Terry Spence and Roger Roy.
Minner promised veterans at Tuesday’s ceremony the veterans’ home will open by 2006. "By waiving the bid laws and using the innovative ‘design-build’ process, we will provide Delaware veterans with the home they have been waiting for as quickly as possible."
Gov. Minner proposed the accelerated schedule on Tuesday and all 62 members of the General Assembly signed on as co-sponsors. The bill allows for a design-build process, which combines design and construction in one proposal and saves time by beginning initial site work before the final design is complete.
House Bill 396 appropriates $2.57 million to start work on the veterans home immediately. The bill also commits the administration to provide a more accurate cost estimate for the project by June to appropriate the rest of the state’s 35 percent share in the bond bill to take effect July 1.