Veterans Affairs picks site for clinic in Eugene

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen a site for a medical clinic in Eugene.

The clinic of nearly 100,000 square feet will be on property now owned by Guard Publishing Co., publisher of the Register-Guard, the newspaper (http://bit.ly/ZIhYFY) reported.

The decision was contained in a contract award notice made public Thursday after years of delay and contention. Four sites were in the final selection process, including two in Springfield.

The clinic is expected to cost $60 million to $80 million and open in 2015, with up to 235 full-time employees. Congress approved the money in 2008.

The notice said the clinic would provide ambulatory surgery, primary care, ancillary services and a center to provide "a continuum of care for veterans currently traveling 70 miles to the Roseburg VA Medical Center."

Clinics the size of the Eugene facility "are something of a new creature" for the department and fill a gap in coverage for veterans, said Tom Towslee, a spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

"These big clinics have been huge successes in other parts of the state," Towslee said. "I have no doubt it will be in Eugene as well."

The department issued a "notification of lease award" for the project to Moreland Corp. of Bakersfield, Calif. Moreland had secured rights to the property from Guard Publishing and proposed the site to the VA. Moreland is to buy the site, build the facility and then lease it to the department.

The Register-Guard's offices are across the street from the site.

The VA's first attempt to pick a site dragged on so long that the agency scrapped it and started afresh.

The second effort was slowed by disputes between one developer and the city of Eugene over zoning criteria, and another developer and the VA over the VA's selection process.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., called the delays "totally and unbelievably unacceptable" and has vowed to see that the VA's process for site selection is overhauled.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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