'Soldier On' resolution passes in Albany County
Updated: Tuesday, July 15 2014, 12:08 AM EDT
ALBANY -- County legislators unanimously approved a resolution supporting an environmental study of a planned veteran’s support building late Monday evening.
Soldier On wants to use the former Ann Lee Nursing Home building in Colonie for its Capital Region site. The building is located on a wetland and must have an environmental impact assessment, known as a State Environmental Quality Review, before rehabilitation of the building can take place.
The process mandates designation of a “lead agency,” which prompted discussion among some lawmakers. During Monday’s legislature meeting, a resolution naming the County Legislature as the lead was scheduled for a vote, but early indicators led some to speculate it would be tabled because of lingering questions from some Democratic legislators.
“This project cannot be delayed another day. The fact they're even talking about tabling the vote on this issue tonight is just downright insulting to all veterans across this country. How dare you send us to war as our lawmakers and then bring us home and not want to give us a facility?,” said Tom Griswold with VFW Post 6776 in Albany.
Dozens of veterans, some of whom said they were helped by Soldier On, rallied outside the meeting before speaking during privilege of the floor. After more than two hours of comments, Democrats, which hold the majority in the legislature, called an emergency caucus.
Fifteen minutes later, a minor amendment adding the Shaker Historical Society to the list of interested parties was added to the resolution, which passed unanimously.
“There was some concern about including the shakers on the RFP [Request for Proposal] and the SEQR request,” said Legislator Gary Domalewicz. “It was a minor issue, but we got it resolved.”
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy later issued a statement praising the planned project and environmental study.
“This will not cost Albany County taxpayers a penny because Soldier On will pay for it,” said McCoy in an emailed statement. “Our returning, at-risk veterans need the services that Soldier On provides. Passing this resolution allows the process to move forward. The SEQRA will provide the answers to environmental questions raised.”