MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Michigan Veteran Homes is taking community opinions into consideration as progress is made on plans for the new D.J. Jacobetti Veterans Home. This month, the MVH secured the federal grant necessary to move forward with its $98 million project to construct a new facility to replace the Jacobetti Home. The MVH held a community forum tonight to discuss the current plans for the new home.
The plans for the new facility are focused on a home like environment. It includes private rooms and bathrooms for every veteran, to move away from the hospital-like design of the current facility. The design includes central community center and rooms set up for a neighborhood approach with separate households. The MVH also says the new facility is being constructed to update Medicare and Medicaid regulatory compliance.
The MVH says is currently focused on land acquisition. The new one-story facility location will need 20 acres minimum of state owned land to accommodate the plans. Ryan Engle with the MVH says four sites are being considered for the project.
“We’re exploring those and doing all of the due diligence necessary” Engle says, “to make sure we put it in the best place for the veterans that will reside there, and the community at large”
Engle said the search is focused within Marquette County to prioritize quality of life for the veterans who live there, to keep proximity to hospitals, and to keep in mind commute times for staff.
Attendee Jeffery Loman expressed concerns about the main site being considered for the new facility: the former Cliffs-Dow site off Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette.
“You can say ‘well, it’s been cleaned up’… Really?” Loman says, “Looking at the documents and looking at the monitoring, I think there’s going to be additional problems at that site.”
The MVH says the land is undergoing a mandatory environmental assessment to ensure there are no more potentially harmful materials left behind before making any decisions.
There are a few more things to finalize before a site can be chosen, but The MVH hopes to break ground next summer. Construction is estimated to take 24 to 36 months, with a finish date of 2027 at the earliest. MVH Exceutive Director Anne Zerbe says they want to make sure any concerns are addressed properly before moving forward.
“I think it’s always important when you’re doing a project like this to make sure that the community knows you’re being open,” Zerbe says, “having those conversations up front with them, and listening to the feedback that they have and being responsive to that.”
The MVH says this forum is just the first of many opportunities for the community to give feedback. More community forums will be scheduled after the environmental assessment is completed this August.