Baker-Polito Administration Files $400 Million Bond Bill for Capital Project To Rebuild Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke

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The following is a press release from the Governor’s office submitted to SOURCE media

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BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration filed on February 11 “An Act Financing the Reconstruction of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke,” which would provide $400 million in capital authorization for a major project to reconstruct the long-term care facility at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

This bill provides the capital authorization that would allow the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to construct a new long-term care facility on the site of the current Holyoke Soldiers’ Home that would meet the needs of the veterans of Western Massachusetts and their families.

The capital project is on an expedited timeline, necessitated by the April 15 deadline for the VA State Home Construction Grant Program, which would provide 65% matching federal funds.

To meet that deadline, DCAMM must have this authorization available by April 1, 2021, which requires this bond bill to be enacted by mid-March, with a terms bill filed and enacted soon afterwards. The design development phase must be completed by August 1, 2021 to be eligible for this cycle of the grant program.

“Building a new, state-of-the-art long-term care facility at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke will ensure we can continue providing quality care for current veterans residing at the Home, as well as future residents,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature to pass this bill so that we can transform the future of the Home, meet the next major deadline in the capital project, and continue to secure funding from our federal partners at the Veterans’ Administration.”

“The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is a unique and special place in the community, and the Baker-Polito Administration is working diligently in partnership with our colleagues in the Legislature to ensure its future ability to serve the next generation of veterans,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This expedited capital project for the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke provides an exciting opportunity to provide a state-of-the-art long-term care facility to meet the needs of our veterans in the coming years and to ensure that they are aligned with anticipated demand.”

“The current Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke was constructed before modern design standards for medical facilities, and the Administration has taken immediate steps to address urgent capital and infection control needs, but it is clear that a major reconstruction of the campus is necessary for the safety, health and comfort of future generations of veterans and staff,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “We are pleased that the planning process involved significant opportunity for community and stakeholder input into the plan’s development to date.”

“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to work collaboratively with stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth to make meaningful investments that help ensure the health, safety, and quality of life for Massachusetts veterans,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “This bond bill will provide critical authorization to reconstruct the long-term care facility at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and we look forward to working closely with our colleagues in the Legislature to quickly pass this bill.”

“The filing of this bond bill to secure funding is one more step in the construction of a new state-of-the-art Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and a sign of hope and progress as we move forward to care for our aging veterans with dignity, honor and respect in Western Massachusetts,” said Veterans’ Services Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe. “We look forward to continuing our expeditious efforts with DCAMM, Payette, EOHHS, the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, and community partners including the Board of Trustees, to complete this process.”

“We are continuing to work closely with our local, state, and federal partners and a wide range of community stakeholders as we move forward with the project to reconstruct the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke,” said Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone. “Having this bond authorization available by April 1 is a critical step in the process to submit a grant application to receive federal funding, and we appreciate the prompt consideration of this legislation.”

“I have been pleased by the rapid planning process and the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to hearing and responding to the views and concerns of the veteran residents, families and staff on a wide range of priorities including bed capacity,” said Massachusetts National Guard Major General Gary W. Keefe, chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. “This is a great example of how we can achieve positive outcomes for our Western Massachusetts veterans, and we look forward to serving them in this beautiful new facility.”

Beginning with the Rapid Planning Process in September of 2020, the Commonwealth has engaged a wide range of stakeholders to assess current needs and to gather input on the planning process. The Commonwealth remains committed to a transparent process and to providing stakeholders and the community with progress reports as they become available.

The Rapid Planning Phase was launched in August to identify a sustainable, public health, implementation roadmap to provide significant upgrades to the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.

The architecture firm that led this project, Payette, wrote a report detailing its findings and recommended next steps. This report represents the culmination of research gathered by a broad group of veterans, families, veterans’ organizations, the community, and other stakeholders through focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

These recommendations reflect the learnings from those engagements, and the analysis of demographic data and services in Western Massachusetts. Read the full report here.

While the expedited capital project will address long-term facility viability, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) have been addressing immediate capital needs, including a $6 million refresh of units, to significantly improve infection control for the residents and staff. The refresh includes refinishing the living and working environment to support infection control, including the installation of air purification units.

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