It is a plan that Illinois Veterans Home Superintendent Troy Culbertson calls historic, a remaking of the campus that will ensure the safety and care of our military heroes and secure the home's future in Quincy.
His assessment is correct.
The final, four-phase master plan for the Vets Home that is estimated to cost up to $230 million was unveiled last week at an open house.
After months of wondering what the plan would look like, visitors saw a proposal that will transform nearly all aspects of the home. A number of outdated buildings will be demolished, others will be renovated, utility service and infrastructure will be vastly improved, and perhaps most importantly, a new, state-of-the-art skilled care facility that can house 208 residents in primarily single rooms with private bathrooms will be built.
The new building will sit on the east side of the campus and be designed by architecture and engineering firm Perkins Eastman. Plans for the new building are expected by the end of 2019.
Mike Hoffman, the senior adviser tasked by Gov. Bruce Rauner with remediating the Legionella outbreak at the home, pointed out, though, that the plan doesn't just feature the new building. It is a comprehensive blueprint for updating the campus at all levels, making it the world-class facility that Rauner promised.
It is important to note that the water management plan at the home will continue to run in tandem with all work. Throughout the process, plumbing will be fully renovated or replaced, and all residents will be guaranteed new plumbing upon moving into a new or renovated building.
Before that can happen, though, many residents must be transferred next month to Lester Hammond Jr. Hall, recently purchased and renovated by the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.
This transfer will put into motion work that is the culmination of years of planning. It also is an endeavor that must be handled with great care to reduce the possibility of transfer trauma for veterans and their spouses.
Culbertson says he has been planning with veterans organizations to coordinate the move, and it is heartening to see him reaching out to members of the public. We hope other organizations and members of the public will offer their help to make moving veterans as smooth as possible.
The Vets Home is an inextricable part of our community, providing care for those who have served our country and good-paying jobs for those who serve them daily.
When the time comes, it will be the community's turn to step up and serve the home's residents.
The process will not be easy, but we believe this community will come together, as it always has, and help usher in a new era at the Illinois Veterans Home.