City and State Could Miss Crucial VA Deadline

The M.O.U. lays out specific fines in the thousands of dollars for each day and week that the site is late.

"At this time, VA does not intend to pursue damages against the city for late site delivery,” explained Don Orndoff, VA Office of Construction and Facilities Management Director.

“Instead, we are focused on working in partnership with the city and state to expedite the delivery of the site and begin on-site construction at the earliest opportunity in 2010."

Officials with the city see things differently.

"The land acquisition process is well underway and all relative notices regarding acquisition and relocation are in progress. The City of New Orleans is encouraged with the favorable response from property owners within the new hospital sites relative to this project," a city spokesman said in a statement.

The city says the first land acquisition will be completed by December 31. This date falls within a newly negotiated agreement with the VA. City officials say the acquisition and demolition of the remaining proberty will be completed by August 30, 2010.

The VA hopes to see its first patient in 2013. Meantime, it is working with the city to amend the M.O.U. to reflect a new timeline.

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