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State Veterans Affairs officials appear to be reconsidering shutdown of Fayetteville veterans home

State Veterans Affairs officials appear to be reconsidering their plan to tear down and rebuild the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Fayetteville.

A top official told state lawmakers on Tuesday that the decision has not yet been made.

Lawmakers have been pushing back on the closing of the facility after less than 25 years. Approximately 85 veterans had to be relocated when the building closed in January.

Brian Pierce is deputy secretary of the state department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Pierce said the facility has significant structural flaws, plus mold and water damage made worse by Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Pierce said an engineering firm that gave them estimates for repairs put the price tag at about $24 million. The state’s share of the cost for a new facility would be $29 million.

State lawmakers are continuing to question whether a new building is really needed. They questioned why it was necessary to relocate all those veterans on short notice.

Pierce said they made the decision not to expose the elderly veterans to any additional risk.

“We probably poorly communicated,” Pierce said. “Our first and foremost concern was getting the residents out of there. The decision has not been made, what the disposition of the buildings going to be.”

State lawmakers said Veterans Affairs Secretary Walter Gaskin told them recently he had decided the building would be replaced.

Gaskin did not attend today’s oversight meeting. He also missed an earlier meeting, so legislators were unable to question him directly.

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