The writer is mayor of Grand Island.
As mayor of Grand Island, I believe the relocation of the Grand Island Veterans Home needs to be a legislative decision, and here is why Legislative Bill 935 ought to be revisited.
The first reason is that the decision to move the Grand Island Veterans Home to Kearney was made as an executive order. The move of the State Fair, in addition to the transfer of the Nebraska State Patrol Academy to Grand Island, were both legislative decisions. Why isn’t the relocation of the Grand Island Veterans Home being addressed in the same manner?
Many in my community are quick to point out that they are not so much worried about decisions affected by the political leanings of 49 state legislators as they are about the personal decisions made by a few. All Nebraskans should be worried about decisions that go unchecked.
LB 1116 approved the move of the State Fair to Grand Island — it was a legislative decision that brought reality to the discussions that had been taking place. The economic impact to Lincoln was considered in that the land, once vacated by the State Fair, would be put to use by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The new use of the area would continue as a vibrant economic driver for the community.
LB 1108 approved the relocation of the Nebraska State Patrol Academy to Grand Island. Once again, the Legislature weighed in on a decision that had an economic impact for a community losing a state facility.
The second reason is that the Grand Island Veterans Home was established within six miles of the city limits of Grand Island by legislative action — LB 247.
As far as I know, this legislation is still law. The legislation determined the terms and conditions for the location of the veterans home. How can the veterans home move when legislation dictates that it reside in Grand Island?
The third reason is that the state’s process had a “start from scratch” attitude. Why would the state assume it was better to relocate than to reinvest in the current facility? It was as if no Grand Island Veterans Home existed, no members were alive and no employees working.
There are also unanswered questions regarding the future of the 640 acres donated by the City of Grand Island for the veterans home. Does the state intend to keep the donated land? Will the land automatically revert back to the city, and if so, when?
As for the recommendation that may very well close the Grand Island Veterans Home, it’s not about a referee’s call (World-Herald editorial, Feb. 20). It’s about the game itself — a game my community figured we won fair and square 127 years ago when we were first to build the gym. In this game, the score that has been kept for 127 years has been erased, like it never existed.
A decision of this magnitude, this complex and this far-reaching should be entrusted for accountability to 49 state legislators and a governor. As the Omaha World-Herald champions, a crystal-clear and transparent governmental discussion always has merit, doesn’t it?