COURTESY WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
In conversations at the state level, Preston Veterans Home Committee members and others involved were urged to take a good look at this veterans home facility in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
COURTESY WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS  In conversations at the state level, Preston Veterans Home Committee members and others involved were urged to take a good look at this veterans home facility in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Scrutinizing the continuing steps, details and costs of a site feasibility study for a potential Minnesota veterans home came again before the Preston Economic Development Authority (EDA) during its Feb. 27 meeting.

Members heard from Brett Grabau of Stantec. He presented a proposal for services to be completed by this engineering firm from Rochester. He outlined the sequence of work in three tasks to be done in the following order with fees as noted: 1) determining the suitability of the site – $11,300; 2) preliminary programming and master planning – $10,000; and 3) visioning and rendering – $7,500, for a total of $28,800.

Grabau listed five sub-tasks to be included in the first task, which totaled $11,3000: 1.1) boundary, topographic and utility file mapping – $1,400; 1.2) municipal wastewater and water supply utility review – $1,600; 1.3) private utility mapping (communication and gas) – $1,400; 1.4) storm water considerations – $1,900; and 1.5) architectural test fitting – $5,000.

He elaborated on each task and sub-task. For example, the last sub-task will look at the footprint of the building, parking, roads, walkways and more. “It will make sure the facility you want to fit (the property) will fit,” said Grabau.

EDA members questioned spending all these city taxpayer dollars before even knowing if the state will select Preston as a veterans home location. Spring Valley is also vying to be the site in Fillmore County, while Bemidji and Montevideo have a combined application before the state for a home site in each city.

Bob Maust, a city council representative on the EDA, said the proposal was a big cost and “first we need to know what’s under the dirt.” He added that he expected it to be rocky and wondered if that might compromise the project with increased costs. Grabau said it wouldn’t matter on the $30 million veterans home project.

Cathy Enerson, Preston’s economic development director contracted through CEDA, asked if an environmental assessment was included in the tasks. Grabau stated it was not, but noted Stantec could get bids and work with another company to do that, if desired.

Enerson also suggested starting to move ahead with tasks Grabau proposed, so the project could be more “shovel ready,” should it be approved. She thought the Montevideo site was taking that route.

Don Gildner, co-chair of the Preston Veterans Home Committee and in attendance at the EDA meeting, said doing things like soil bearings could occur fast when needed, so considered a slower, methodical approach in tasks and spending appropriate.

While Preston’s site initially proposed a 100-bed facility, state officials said they are looking at 144 beds to come to Minnesota, likely in two 72-bed homes. They encouraged Preston to look at a 72-bed facility in Chippewa Falls, Wis., as a model, when members of the Preston Veterans Home Committee presented their case for a home to state officials on Feb. 13.

Grabau noted Stantec, which has additional offices, is working with locating a veterans home in Michigan. He suggested taking a good look at that facility since it’s being constructed to more recent standards. He said the process to get the Wisconsin home built took 10 years and this new Minnesota veterans home could take just as long.

Grabau wondered about adding hospice care to the home. Enerson replied that a state official said it could go into a home, but was not needed, while nursing and memory care should be included.

Dwight Luhmann, re-elected as the EDA president, said he saw Task 1 as a “threshold issue” that would need to be done before proceeding with other issues.

Grabau will return and the EDA will address the tasks further during a future meeting.