FOLLOWING SCHUMER’S AGGRESSIVE ADVOCACY, TRIGGERED BY NEWS OF DELAY, VA AWARDS +$23 MILLION CONTRACT TO GLOBAL URBAN ENTERPRISE IN ONTARIO COUNTY TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION ON WESTERN NEW YORK NATIONAL VETERANS CEMETERY
Since 2009, Schumer Has Worked With Local Veteran Leaders To Bring Much-Needed Veterans’ Cemetery To Western New York; Last Year, Successfully Pushed For VA To Complete Final Acquisition Of Two Parcels Of Land In Pembroke To Bring Project To Life
Schumer Today Announces VA Has Awarded $23,337,281 To Global Urban Enterprise In Victor, NY To Complete Phase 1A Of New Veterans’ Cemetery
Schumer: I Won’t Stop Fighting Until Construction Is Finished On New Cemetery For WNY’s Veterans, Their Families And All Who Call Western New York Home
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his years-long advocacy for the project, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded a $23,337,281 contract to Global Urban Enterprise in Victor, NY to, at long last, begin construction on Phase 1A of the new Western New York National Veterans Cemetery. Global Urban Enterprise, in Ontario County, will be partnering with Syracuse-based Hueber-Breuer Construction, along with other subcontractors, to complete construction on the long-sought Veteran’s Cemetery.
Just last month, Schumer urged the VA to prioritize the WNY cemetery construction as a top priority and to review its construction timeline schedule—which originally called for the construction contract to be award by the end of this summer—to find opportunities to shave off time and expedite. In response, the VA made this a top priority and has now completed its construction contract award ahead of schedule. Schumer vowed to continue pushing the VA to avoid any more unnecessary delays, and reiterated his efforts to secure an additional $10 million in this year’s federal budget to complete the cemetery’s construction.
“The awarding of this $23 million contract to Ontario County-based Global Urban Enterprise clears the way for the construction of the long-sought and sorely-needed Western New York National Veterans Cemetery to, at long last, get underway. Making this cemetery come to reality has been and remains one of my top priorities, and I won’t stop fighting until it comes to fruition,” said Senator Schumer. “This contract and the cemetery’s construction soon getting underway helps guarantee Western New York’s military veterans will have a proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families, and the very communities they dedicated their lives to defend and serve.”
Schumer has long fought to make the Western New York National Veterans Cemetery a reality. In January of 2018, Schumer called on the VA to complete the final acquisitions of two 60-acre and 77-acre land parcels in Pembroke, New York, and one month later announced the VA had done so. In 2016, Schumer announced that following his push $36 million in federal funding for the construction phase of the cemetery in Western New York had been included in the final continuing resolution (CR) package. In December 2015, Schumer launched his push to get the VA to include this critical funding in the VA’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request, to safeguard against needless delays between phases. In February 2016, Schumer announced the inclusion of this funding in the previous President’s Budget Request was a good sign for Rochester, Buffalo and all of Western New York. Schumer vowed to continue pushing for this critical federal funding to be included in the final appropriations bill. In April 2016, Schumer announced that following his push, the $36 million in federal funding had been included in the final Senate Military Construction Appropriations Bill for the construction phase of the cemetery.
Schumer said the establishment of the nation’s newest Veterans’ Cemetery in Western New York is a long-sought and well-deserved opportunity to honor the more than 96,000 veterans and family members in this region who will have a proper military burial at a site close to their homes, families, and communities they served and defended. This Veterans’ Cemetery will be the first and only of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area and will save thousands of military families from having to travel more than 100 miles in some cases to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest Veterans' Cemetery in Bath, NY.
According to guidance provided by the VA, the first burials are expected to occur at the cemetery by next November/December. In total, this first $23 million phase of construction will create 4,000 gravesites, including roughly 2,500 gravesites for casket interments, and 1,500 in-ground sites for cremated remains.
A list of Schumer’s actions appears below:
- In February 2018, Schumer announced that the VA had completed the final acquisitions of two parcels of land in Pembroke to construct the new Western New York National Veterans Cemetery.
- In February 2016, Schumer announced that the just-released President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 included $36 million in funding for the construction phase of the newest National Veterans’ Cemetery in Pembroke.
- In December 2015, Schumer launched his push to secure federal funding for the construction phase of the cemetery.
- In May 2014, Schumer announced that the VA had selected a site for the long-awaited Western New York Veterans’ Cemetery on a 132-acre parcel at 1232 Indian Falls Road in the Town of Pembroke, Genesee County.
- This was the culmination of years of work beginning in 2009 when Schumer, together with various veterans groups, led the charge to bring a much-needed veterans’ cemetery to Western New York arguing that a lack of a national veterans’ cemetery within a 75-mile radius of Buffalo and Rochester meant that it was long past time for the 96,000 underserved veterans and family members living in Western New York to have a fitting burial option closer to home.
- In 2010, the VA responded and announced it would establish a new veteran’s cemetery in Western New York. An updated VA policy dictated the construction of a national cemetery in areas where there are at least 80,000 veterans that reside at least 75-miles from an existing cemetery. In Western New York, there are 96,000 who live up to 100 miles away from the closest National Veterans Cemetery in Bath, NY.
- In March 2012, after the VA failed to find suitable land to purchase following two separate solicitation attempts, Schumer wrote to then-VA Secretary Shinseki to urge that the VA put forth a clear timeline and path forward to avoid another protracted process that could come up empty. In response, the VA dispatched personnel to Western New York to conduct site visits at several sites in WNY, issued a final solicitation for sites, and developed several candidate sites for evaluation, of which one was the 132-acre site in Pembroke that the VA subsequently acquired.
- In April 2013, Schumer organized a meeting at Daemen College with local veterans and VA officials to update Veterans on the VA’s timeline and in order for veterans to provide input to the VA.
- In Sept 2013, Schumer wrote to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (SHPO) to urge the agency to complete an archeological cultural-resource study required in order for the VA to complete the required approvals needed to close on the purchase of the preferred Indian Falls Road site in Pembroke.
- In May 2014, Schumer announced that the results of the archeological cultural-resource study determined a finding of “no significant impacts,” thus allowing the VA to move forward on the purchase of the preferred site on Indiana Falls Road later that month.
- In July 2014, Schumer called on the VA to move forward on plans to acquire the adjoining 60-acre parcel that abuts the current 132-acre site. This would immediately make the cemetery nearly 50% larger, increase capacity, and provide better access to the cemetery for veterans’ funeral processions and visitors.
The 132- acre site on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke is located approximately 30 miles from Buffalo and 48 miles from Rochester. The cemetery will provide a fitting burial option to approximately 96,000 currently underserved veterans and family members living in Western New York. Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents. Burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker.
Schumer said more than 96,000 veterans and their families across Western New York from Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region to Buffalo deserve to have this cemetery constructed as soon as possible and without further impediments or unnecessary delays.
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