After launching an all-out push to stop the closure of the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Campus nearly two decades ago, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today revealed they have secured over $250 million for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region through the bipartisan omnibus-spending package for Fiscal Year 2023, including the final $62.5 million needed to complete the modernization of Canandaigua VA Campus. This bring full circle a 20 yearlong effort by Schumer to reverse what would be the closure of the facility, and instead modernize and expand the campus, culminating in a total of $506 million so Rochester Finger Lakes veterans can receive the care they need for decades to come.
“This is BIG news for Rochester and the Finger Lakes. The over $250 million we have secured for community driven project across the Rochester-Finger Lakes region means good paying jobs, new economic opportunity, and making long overdue upgrades to our infrastructure,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding also brings us full circle to a battle I picked up nearly two decades to save the Canandaigua VA, they wanted to rip local care away from thousands of Finger Lakes veterans and I promised to deliver the funding they needed to not only keep this campus open, but give it the modern amenities our vets deserved. Now a promise made is a promise kept, to the tune of over $500 million over the past 20 years to transform this 150-acre campus into the state of the art modern health facility the Finger Lakes veterans community has long deserved.”
“This funding will be transformative for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. The $62.5 million I helped secure with Senator Schumer will help complete the modernization of the VA facility in Canandaigua, helping provide the best standard of care for those who served our nation,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This federal investment will also help rehabilitate our aging infrastructure, give workers the tools and training they need to secure in-demand jobs, and provide high-quality health care services close to home. I will always keep fighting to bring federal dollars home to Rochester and the Finger Lakes.”
“I’m proud to have worked alongside Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to secure this federal funding that will be transformative for our community,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “This is an investment in the extraordinary work being done by local organizations to uplift families and strengthen our neighborhoods. I look forward to seeing these projects implemented and continuing to partner with Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand to create a brighter future for our region.”
Specifically, the $62.5 million the senators just delivered to will complete the overall planned $506 million major modernization and upgrade of the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus and fund the final upgrades, including the completion of the new State-of-the-art Outpatient Clinic complex and remaining renovations to Buildings 1,3,4,5, and 9. The $506 million upgrade project includes the construction of a new 84,200 sq. ft. three-story modern Outpatient Clinic, construction of 10 new Housing Cottages that provide 120 quality housing units for older veterans to replace its outdated long-term living spaces, a new Community Living Center, renovation of the dilapidated Domiciliary facility where veterans recovered before re-entering the community after receiving assistance for homelessness, substance abuse, or mental or behavior health therapy, as well as asbestos removal, upgrades to utilities, access roads, parking and construction of additional state-of-the-art updates for rehab, physical therapy, mental health outpatient care, and adult day health care offerings.
This is the culmination of a long history by Schumer from when he was first elected to the senate, and Senator Gillibrand, fighting to keep the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus open, and delivering the robust federal funding to modernize the campus to boost the quality of care for Finger Lakes veterans. In 2003, the VA released its Capital Asset Realignment for Enhancement Services (CARES) Draft National Plan which recommended closing the Canandaigua Veteran’s hospital, which would have forced local veterans to travel much farther to VA hospitals in other cities to receive the care they needed, and removing one of the region’s major employers. Schumer launched an all-out campaign to keep the hospital open, eventually resulting in VA announcing that it would initiate a major reconstruction project to modernize the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. For years, Schumer and Gillibrand then worked to ensure funding would continuously flow for the redevelopment of the medical campus. Now with this final piece of the puzzle, this overall half a billion dollar major construction project to upgrade the Canandaigua VA will provide Rochester-area veterans with the new state-of-art medical facilities and housing they have long deserved.
In addition to funding for the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus, the senators also delivered major funding for some of Rochester’s biggest research institutions and employers including $86 million for the OMEGA Laser Lab Facility at the University of Rochester to continue critical research integral for national and global security and the future of energy, bolstering the revolutionizing work that helped achieve the groundbreaking world’s-first net-energy producing nuclear fusion reaction in November, with an over $3 million increase compared to last year. The bill also includes $92.5 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT, an increase of $4 million above last year’s level. Schumer said that this funding supports hundreds of Rochester jobs and allows NTID to give students skills and training, as well as invest in critical areas such as sign language, and captioning services.
“Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand have shown an extraordinary belief in the YMCA of Greater Rochester’s ability to help make Canandaigua a better place to live, grow, and thrive. The new Sands Family YMCA will be a community resource for people of all ages and backgrounds” said Andrew Powers, Chief Development Officer, YMCA of Greater Rochester. “This support is not an investment in a building, but in the potential of all people in the region. With health and wellness services, childcare, day camp, services for older adults, and much more, everyone can find their place at the Y.”
Jim Wideman, Chairman of the Finger Lakes Veterans Advocacy Council said, “The Finger Lakes Veterans Advocacy Council has long-supported the modernization and expansion of the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus. Senator Schumer has been a staunch advocate for the campus for decades, and we appreciate Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to secure the final amount needed to complete the project and ensure our veterans are receiving the highest quality of care for years to come.”
Schumer and Gillibrand also delivered over $27 million in community led projects across Rochester and the Finger Lakes. These projects include:
$1,000,000 for the YMCA of Greater Rochester to construct the new Canandaigua YMCA:
To help fund the construction of the new Sands Family YMCA in Canandaigua that will provide childcare, aging adult services, family services, health care and more.
$400,000 for Rise Up Rochester, Inc.’s Anti-Violence Safe Housing Project:
This will fund their Anti-Violence Safe Housing Project. Funding will support personnel as they work to provide safe housing and support for gun violence victims.
$400,000 for Lifespan of Greater Rochester’s Improving Older Adults’ Health Through Community-based Aging Services and Healthcare Integration program:
This funding will enable Lifespan to integrate systems of care to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life for vulnerable, medically complex Medicare beneficiaries.
$750,000 for Avenue Blackbox Theatre, Inc. in the City of Rochester’s Joseph Avenue Corridor for their Avenue Children’s Theater Project:
This funding will enable Avenue Blackbox Theatre, which is a community anchor on Joseph Avenue in Northeast Rochester, to support their year-round afterschool and out of school arts and literacy programs for teens and K-12 students to learn a culturally relevant education in a safe space.
$20,000,000 to fund the US Army Corps of Engineers’ completion of the Great Sodus Bay Harbor Breakwall to protect the bay, homes, and businesses from damaging waters, waves, and erosion.
$2,400,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes Resiliency Study to develop a blueprint to safeguard Lake Ontario towns, communities, and homeowners:
The study would coordinate a long-term strategy across the Great Lakes States to more efficiently and effectively manage the Great Lakes coastline. Flooding in recent years has caused millions of dollars in damage to residences, businesses, and the shoreline, making this study more vital than ever to ensure resilience for communities along Lake Ontario.
$500,000 for the Livingston County Development Corporation’s Drem-O-Vate Small Business Attraction program:
This funding will provide incentives to grow jobs by attracting new Main Street tenants to set up shop in Livingston County’s nine Villages by providing new businesses with entrepreneurial training, business planning, mentorship, and technical assistance to boost Livingston County’s economic development.
$2,500,000 for the City of Batavia to construct a new Public Safety Facility:
The new facility will enhance the ability of the City of Batavia Police Department to respond to emergency calls and serve as a gathering place for community events.
$1,000,000 for Monroe County’s Genesee Valley Pump Station & Force Main Project:
This project will make essential upgrades to expand sewer capacity required for the construction of the new $641 million URMC Strong Memorial Hospital expansion & modernization construction.
$2,000,000 for Genesee County’s Water Security and Resiliency North Water Storage Tank:
This will allow Genesee County to add over 7 million gallons of water per day to the county’s water supply, preventing the county from running out of water. This project will also improve water quality for drinking water, increase the capacity to supply hydrants for emergency responses, and help spur economic growth and job creation for Genesee County.
$1,500,000 for Noyes Health for their Ambulatory Surgical/Procedural Services Expansion Project:
This will allow Noyes to provide new ambulatory services to the surrounding area. Noyes is the largest private employer and the largest health care provider in Livingston County, and this project ensures they can continue to provide exceptional care to the rural, underserved, community.
Schumer, Gillibrand, and Rep. Morelle together also delivered over $14 million to community led projects across Rochester and the Finger Lakes. These projects include:
$1,000,000 for University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Modernization:
This will greatly increase bed capacity at the hospital. This funding is part of the University’s $641 million project to expand Strong Memorial Hospital, New York’s largest teaching, and acute care psychiatric hospital and trauma center. The expansion of the Emergency Department and Patient Tower will allow University of Rochester address the current and future needs of the community while creating thousands of construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs at the hospital. The total project is the largest project in the University’s history.
$1,000,000 for the City of Rochester’s Youth and Adult Employment Services Expansion:
The funding will allow the City of Rochester to expand services and jobs for both youth employment and the young adult workforce, gradually doubling the number of youth in the youth employment services programs. This includes summer and year-round employment, internships, service opportunities, and early exposure to financial literacy, all of which will help stimulate the local economy.
$306,000 for Bivona Child Advocacy Center for their Prevention Education for Child Safety program:
This project will train facilitators to teach comprehensive, evidence based sexual abuse prevention programs.
$700,000 for Encompass: Resources for Learning, Inc. for their Innovation Pathway program:
This program will support students in a whole-child model, providing a pre-k through graduation pathway, which addresses life both inside and outside of school for students and members of their households.
$200,000 for Cameron Community Ministries for their Afterschool and Summer Enrichment programs:
This will fund their Afterschool and Summer Academic Enrichment Program, which will go towards personnel, educational supplies, equipment, and staff training.
$819,312 for His Branches, Inc. for their Community Health Center Renovation:
This will fund an expansion and upgrade of this community health center site in Rochester’s 19th Ward, allowing for the expansion of programs and health care services to the underserved in the community.
$325,000 for Willow Domestic Violence Center of Greater Rochester, Inc.’s Domestic Violence Services:
This funding will enhance services and training to support survivors of abuse. Willow will also expand their crisis and support hotline, support clients looking for housing, and provide trauma-informed care capacity for staff training.
$500,000 for Connected Communities, Inc.’s Neighborhood Hub:
This will help Connected Communities acquire and renovate two community spaces in Northeast Rochester that will offer services for school-age children to older adults, and serve as a co-working space for organizations and nonprofits.
$3,500,000 for Monroe County to build an addition to the MCC Applied Technology Center to address workforce demands across the Finger Lakes region:
The center will help create jobs, bolster workforce training and offer programming such as automotive, heating, ventilation, and precision machining programs.
$750,000 for the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House’s Landmark Expansion:
This will support Rochester’s marque historical tourist designation’s landmark expansion with a new Interpretive Center, which will expand their programs and experiences for the local community and attract increased visitors from across the country.
$2,000,000 for Rochester Institute of Technology to bolster chip research:
This funding will allow RIT to purchase and install equipment for their microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing education and research. This includes critical upgrades to cleanroom equipment and resources for their dry-lab. With this modernization project, RIT will be well-positioned to continue making major research contributions to US semiconductor manufacturing, while also developing highly-qualified engineering talent to help alleviate the global chips shortage and help solidify the role of the US following the passage of the CHIPS Act.