Hopes Boosted for Veterans Home Site

A governor's commission selecting a site for a $30-million veterans home will meet in Ventura in March and could make a decision then, local supporters say.

The commission will meet at 9 a.m. March 6 in the county supervisors meeting room at the County Government Center and will tour 26 acres of land in Saticoy that was donated for such a project.

"That's significant because if they weren't really interested in Ventura, they wouldn't be [coming] here," county Supervisor John K. Flynn said at a news conference Wednesday. "We'll ask them at that time to choose Ventura for a new home."

The decision could be made on the spot if a tour of the area leaves commission members favorably impressed, Flynn said.

The state and federally funded home would create 400 jobs and provide such spinoff benefits as increased tourism.

Four veterans homes will be built in Southern California. The first opens in Barstow next month. Its 400 beds are already filled and a 1,300-person waiting list has been established.

Two others are tentatively scheduled to be built in Chula Vista and Lancaster.

Despite competition from at least five other Southern California communities, Ventura is in a "very good position" to snag the fourth, said LeRoy Andrews, a Ventura architect who has coordinated the four-year effort for a local home. Veterans groups in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are working with Ventura County to push the project.

"[The commission] has a set of criteria and we meet every one of them," the World War II veteran said. "The hard work is behind us. It remains for us to convince the governor's commission we're ready to go."

An earlier effort to build a home in Ventura stalled when veterans groups and Chumash tribe members could not agree on a site. The new proposal includes a memorial to veterans and the Chumash on the Saticoy site, which tribe members say is a burial ground.

There are an estimated 600,000 veterans in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

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