Northport Veterans medical center plans assisted living facility

Philip Moschitta, left, director of the Northport Veterans Philip Moschitta, left, director of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Ronald Brattain, center, chief engineer for the medical center, and Maria Favale, associate director of the medical center, at the site of the proposed assisted living facility on Friday, April 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center officials want a Florida developer to construct a 110-unit assisted living facility on the hospital's grounds.

Some neighbors have voiced concern about the possible impact on traffic, but VA Medical Center director Philip Moschitta predicted the traffic impact would be minimal because the VA has created five outpatient clinics off the Northport campus, and fewer people visit.

"This development provides a much-needed service to veterans on Long Island who have been incapacitated from daily living, and it also affords them the opportunity to have some independence and co-locations at the VA where they could receive care," said Ronald Brattain, the VA's chief of engineering and lead person on the project.

Under the proposal, the VA would lease 10 acres on its 268-acre campus, so the developer, Communities for Veterans of Sarasota, Fla., could construct the facility. Solutions Advisors of New Jersey would manage the finished complex.

Project manager Thomas Settle said the facility would prefer veterans but would be open to nonveterans -- as mandated by the lender's agreement.

Brattain said nonveterans will live there if not enough veterans are eligible for the units. There is no age restriction for the proposed facility, the developer and VA officials said.

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Settle said the facility will have 110 units -- 22 for those with special needs. He said they are discussing with VA officials how many units will be available at a discounted rate for veterans. Monthly rates will compete with other similar Long Island facilities, but some veterans will quality for federal benefits that could help defray the cost.

The developer and VA officials appeared at a Huntington Planning Board meeting on April 2 for the site plan's public hearing. That night, several residents asked questions about the proposal and the potential impact on area traffic.

"Knowing now that there will be an impact on local roads beginning with the construction of the site, we look forward to a revised traffic study," said Paul Graf, president of the Fort Salonga Association, in a statement.

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Brattain said at the meeting that there is a possibility the VA will revise a traffic study that was completed in 2010.

The 2010 traffic study was for a 200-bed assisted living facility, and it concluded that the intersection in front of the Northport VA would see a 1.6 percent increase in traffic during the morning rush hour and 3.6 percent during the evening equivalent.

The assisted living facility is slated to be built on a wooded area on the northeast corner of the VA campus, adjacent to the entrance and golf course. The developer will also renovate four existing historic structures near the proposed facility, in addition to the assisted living project.

Bruce Blower, a disabled Army veteran, became a quadriplegic when he was 22 years old, after he contracted polio from a vaccine.

Blower, 76, said he wants to live in his Huntington Station home with his wife as long as they can, but he's "looking forward to a time when I probably will have to go into it. I think the assisted living is the missing link at the Northport VA," Blower said.

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