U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) has set a deadline for the federal government to announce its intentions on a proposal for a new Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Ocean County.
While it has been widely rumored that the so-called “triangle lot” in Brick will be the site of a long-awaited facility, the federal government missed its own Oct. 30 deadline to announce its location, even though the Brick Township planning board approved an application that would allow a 75,000 square foot medical facility – built almost to the exact specifications of a VA bid solicitation – on the property, which abuts Route 88, Jack Martin Boulevard and Burrsville Road.
Kim and fellow U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) on Wednesday released a letter sent to the Department of Veterans Affairs asking for answers on the proposed VA health center “and the current barriers to care faced by New Jersey Veterans.”
The letter, co-signed by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, outlines the critical demand for a new and expanded Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or CBOC, in Ocean County. The delegation cites “numerous barriers to care” for local veterans, including, “unacceptably long wait times, too few providers, even fewer options for transportation, difficulty finding parking nearby and a lack of automatic doors at each entrance – preventing wheelchair bound or disabled veterans from opening the door to the physical therapy clinic without assistance.”
Parking woes have long plagued the existing VA facility off Route 70, as have long lines and a lack of certain services, including imagine services, at the current location. In some cases, officials have said, veterans have had to find transportation to a VA hospital in East Orange for such services. The Brick facility, as approved, included room for imaging services.
The delegation, in the letter, cited multiple meetings with VA officials in which these issues have been raised on behalf of local veterans and outlines three questions: the construction timeline of a new facility, the number of health care providers and transportation options for the VA.
The “triangle lot” approval included the option to construct a bus station as well as 476 parking spaces, 45 handicap spaces and dedicated motorcycle parking spaces, filling the transportation requirement of the bid specifications.
The letter provides a deadline of Dec. 8 for the VA to provide answers to the questions, which aim to, “deliver on the promise of better, more timely service for our veterans and ensure our veteran community is properly honored through the delivery of VA excellence.”
Kamson Corporation, which owns the triangle lot and was the applicant for approval of the 75,000 square foot facility, said it had not identified an “end user” for the building, even though its construction has been approved.
The VA was also considering a second site in Brick in a vacant lot off Cedar Bridge Avenue, or a site near the Seacourt shopping center off Hooper Avenue in Toms River.