Kevin Woster Journal staff
It was kind of a bad news, good news day for Hot Springs Mayor Don DeVries.
And given the last couple of years, he’ll take it.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced on Wednesday that there will be more delays in the construction of the new State Veterans Home in Hot Springs. But he also announced that negotiations with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will extend a $23.6 million federal grant so the project can proceed when other issues are settled.
In Hot Springs, a town rocked by the proposed closing of the VA’s Medical Center there, the news brought more relief and hope than it did disappointment.
“We’re not happy that it’s being delayed, but we are happy about the grant being continued,” DeVries said. “And it’s better to take the time to do this right the first time. We support that.”
In late May, Daugaard notified state lawmakers that he was calling a special legislative session on June 22 to deal with a $10 million difference between the estimated $41.3 million construction cost for the project and the higher-than-expected low bid.
The project is to be funded by the federal grant and state bonding. Daugaard said when he announced the special session that it was needed so work could proceed this construction season. Now that will wait for next year.
Through negotiations with the VA, the state has until next February to finalize construction plans, rather than this month, to finalize construction plans. The grant will be extended, allowing the state to “revisit the current plans, seek a scaled-back design and rebid the entire project,” Daugaard said Wednesday.
He said he now believes that cost savings in the project are possible, and expects to present the new plan to the 2014 state Legislature.
That all makes sense to DeVries.
“That Veterans Home means a lot to us here in Hot Springs,” he said. “We’re happy it’s being rebuilt, but we should do it right.”