Heinz Hall decision reversed
Oujiri: IVH to work with residents on future issues
A plan to move Iowa Veterans Home residents living in Heinz Hall to the Sheeler Building has been reversed, according to a statement released on Friday by IVH Commandant Timon Oujiri.
“The correct decision sometimes is not the right decision. Therefore, I have made a determination to reverse my decision to initiate relocating the residents of Heinz Hall to Sheeler,” Oujiri said. “IVH will conduct a comprehensive plan with residents’ participation on addressing their concerns for future issues.”
The announcement came after a town hall meeting earlier this week saw several residents of Heinz Hall voice concerns about a plan to close the facility by September of 2018. Among residents’ concerns were lack of space and privacy at the Sheeler Building compared to Heinz Hall, as well as lack of transparency from IVH administration.
The statement goes on to read that a meeting was held Friday morning which included hall residents, adding they were able to further voice their concerns to Oujiri.
Area legislators weighed in on the announcement Friday.
“It definitely shows the commandant’s willingness to listen to the residents,” said state Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, adding the Heinz Hall situation continues to be a “fluid plan.”
State Rep. Mark Smith said he agreed with the commandant’s decision.
“I’m pleased with the decision to put this on hold,” he said. “I think anything moving forward should make the living arrangements for the veterans better, and that it should involve their input.”
Smith facilitated the town hall meeting Monday morning in which several Heinz Hall residents voiced their concerns directly to Oujiri. He also said Thursday that the issue was to be reviewed by the Iowa House Veterans Affairs committee and the joint Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations subcommittee.
Edler, who sits on that subcommittee, reaffirmed his belief that the Heinz Hall issue was not budgetary in nature.
“I guess this [announcement] would somewhat reflect my thought, too, that it was not a budgetary issue, which I think it was trying to be made into one,” he said.
Smith said he “vehemently disagrees” with Edler on that point.
“In the entire 17 years that I’ve been in the General Assembly, that has been the budget subcommittee which hears the concerns about the Iowa Veterans Home budget and is in that budget bill when it’s passed in both the House and Senate,” he said. “It very much surprises me that a member of that committee doesn’t know that.”
After the planned closure of Heinz Hall was announced in mid-November, Oujiri said a move to the Sheeler Building would place residents “… much closer to all of the activities and facilities” on the 150-acre campus. The building is located more centrally on campus than Heinz Hall, which is located at the northeast corner of the grounds.
Heinz Hall was built in 1900, making it the oldest building on the Iowa Veterans Home campus.
For more information on the Iowa Veterans Home, visit https://ivh/iowa.gov