ELIZABETHTOWN - The search for a new site for the Veterans' Administration clinic in Elizabethtown may soon be over, according to Essex County officials.
Westport supervisor Daniel Connell told colleagues at an Aug. 9 Economic Development Committee meeting that the owner of the former State Police barracks in Westport has submitted an application to Westport's Planning Board to renovate the single-story brick building for use as a new site for the VA Clinic.
Hildegard Moore, the building's owner, submitted a similar application to the county planning office. Supervisors agreed to issue a "no comment" letter on the proposal, allowing the project to move forward without further approval from the county planning office.
The project will still need the approval of the Westport Planning Board, which will hold an Aug. 25 public hearing on the issue.
The former State Police barracks has been rumored as one of just a few sites under consideration by the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center to replace its clinic at Elizabethtown Community Hospital.
Citing a need for more space, Stratton VAMC announced plans last year to establish a new clinic in the area to take the place of the Elizabethtown site. When area veterans expressed concern about the relocation of the clinic, the medical center adjusted its plans to allow for two separate sites: one in the Saranac Lake area, and another near Elizabethtown.
A site on Depot Street in Saranac Lake was named in June as the first site chosen for a new clinic. The clinic staff would alternate days there and at whatever site is chosen near Elizabethtown.
Peter Potter, spokesman for Stratton VAMC, said he could not confirm the State Police barracks as the chosen site because a contract with the owner has yet to be signed. However, he did say negotiations are ongoing with the site's owner.
An assessment by Stratton VAMC staff identified one main issue with the building, Potter said, and Moore has yet to respond with a plan to rectify it.
"Once that issue has been addressed, we can go forward with a site inspection," said Potter. "Assuming all is well, we'll get down to the final phases."
The contract would set up a lease agreement with the owner, meaning the property would remain in private hands and part of the local tax roll.
If a contract were to be signed within the next few weeks, Potter said the building could potentially be ready to open as a clinic before the end of the year.
"We're just really looking forward to getting up and running and serving the local area," Potter said.