This article was written by Robert E. Yott of Bath, New York. Mr. Yott’s and Rep. Reed’s convesation was mentioned in “‘Rep. Reed: I am committed to the veterans, 100%.’ But Wait…”— which was posted on this blog on December 1, 2013.
As a veteran, I was appalled to hear that Congressman Tom Reed supported the Bath VA Medical Center’s plan to allow Loyola Recovery Foundation (LRF) to build low-income property on VA property. What was more alarming was that Reed’s staff in Washington denied Reed had any knowledge of this proposal.
Now, why would Tom Reed deny this?
President and CEO of LRF, Chris Wilkins, a disbarred attorney, held a community meeting on January 2, 2013 in Bath. He stated state and federal funding would be used to tear down three historic houses on VA property and replace them with a 52,000 square foot apartment complex; complete with one, two, and three bedroom apartments. This averages to roughly $400,000 an apartment! Also, all clientele would be given jobs. The only criteria for securing perpetual use of these apartments was if the applicant had been through several drug and alcohol programs and now vowed to stay clean and sober.
Unfortunately, the clientele LRF planned to transplant here would be non-veterans from inner-cities, and many with criminal backgrounds.
Wilkins, who served time for stealing from clients, failed to address my email regarding nearly one dozen questions and concerns so I decided to investigate further. First, I called the NY State Historic Preservation Office who was surprised when they learned of LRF’s intent on tearing down these houses. They informed me that LRF was denied permission because the houses were located in a flood zone and any ideas of building a complex of this size in their place would be ludicrous.
It was at this time that I discovered Tom Reed signed a Letter of Support for this proposal. In February, 2013, I called Reed’s office in Washington. They informed me that Reed was unaware of this plan which would take place a mere 15 miles from his own hometown but, they promised to call me right back with an answer. For two weeks I called his office when finally, I spoke with Laura Ringdahl, Reed’s point of contact regarding LRF. She too, refused to admit Reed knew of this plan and then accused me of not wanting to support our veterans!
Reed continued to ignore my repeated request for answers. On September 11, 2013, Bath Village and Town boards held a combined community meeting regarding the VA and LRF’s plan. The result was a resounding NO, they did not want this plan which would adversely affect their community to take effect. Shortly thereafter, the VA and LRF pulled the plug on their proposal.
So, why did Tom Reed support this plan and yet, repeatedly ignore questions as to why? Additionally, why would Chris Wilkins withhold the fact that Reed supported it?
I attended Reed’s town hall meeting in Bath on November 16. As he answered questions he repeatedly remarked he wanted to cut spending and close up the deficit. I then asked him why he supported such an extravagant plan which would help only 30 individuals. His reply was “nothing was too good for our veterans.” I informed him I read the proposal and this plan was not exclusive to veterans and would do more harm to the meager service already provided to our veterans than good. I asked him if $17 million was a little excessive for just 30 individuals, his response was “No, it’s 30 at a time.” I informed him that residency was perpetual, he again stated “Yes, but it is for 30 individuals at a time.”
I asked Reed if he even read the proposal. He admitted attending a meeting at the VA to discuss the proposal in depth. When I asked about his relationship with Chris Wilkins, Reed denied ever meeting him!
LRF’s plan would have had an adverse effect on the care of our veterans and our communities and yet Tom Reed blindly supports this project led by a convicted felon he never met! It is very obvious that Reed does not care about voters in the 23rd District. He only cares about those who contributes to his campaign!
Robert E. Yott is the author of, “From Soldier’s Home to Medical Center (A Glance at the 150 year History of the Bath Soldiers’ Home). “
“The fascinating story of how a group of Civil War veterans, known as the Grand Army of the Republic, led the fight to raise the $100,000 needed to establish a State Soldiers’ Home in New York. From its inception to the present VA Medical Center, this book covers the triumphs and scandals in its 125 plus year history. From U.S. Grant to Theodore Roosevelt; Robert Kennedy to the record setting EchoTaps, it’s all here. Nearly 200 pages with 150 photos, some never before seen.”
It can be purchased for $18.00 (no charge for shipping) with a check or money order to Robert Yott, 8510 County Rte. 13, Bath, NY 14810. There will be a $5 donation to Martha Robertson’s campaign with each purchased if you mention her name or the NY 23rd with the order.