California secures $6.8M federal grant to begin construction at Fort Ord
MARINA, Calif. – U.S. Representative Sam Farr, D-Carmel, and California State Senator Bill Monning, held a press conference today to announce that the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs approved the state’s design to build the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery at the former Fort Ord and has awarded $6.8 million in federal funds to build the cemetery. With today’s announcement, the state can now begin construction of the first phase of the cemetery, a 17 acre columbaria that will include 5,000 niches.
“For two decades, we have worked with the veterans’ community to build a cemetery that honors not just their service but also honors the legacy of Fort Ord,” said Farr. “Today, we can finally say we are ready to begin construction of the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery. This final resting place will be a fitting tribute to those who bravely wore our nation’s uniform.”
The California Department of Veterans Affairs submitted the initial application last year to participate in the federal Veterans Cemetery Grants Service Program for FY 2014. The state then had to meet several design deadlines before the September 30th deadline to be eligible for the funds this fiscal year. Any delay would have prevented the federal government from awarding the $6.8 million grant which could have put the entire project in jeopardy.
“The award of a grant from the USDVA to finally begin building a veterans cemetery at the former Fort Ord is a tremendous accomplishment for our veterans, local community, and state and federal partners,” said Monning. “I am very grateful and overwhelmed that we are on the threshold of realizing a dream that many worked for so long to make happen.”
The $6.8 million will be used is to reimburse all constructions costs associated with building the first phase of the cemetery. An additional $2.6 million was necessary to cover any additional costs such as state salaries and land transfer fees. The local veterans raised nearly $600,000 of the necessary funds. When combined with $1 million in state funds secured by Monning and an additional $1 million provided by California Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez , the first phase of the project is completely funded. The state is eligible for additional grants to pay for the other phases of the project.
Fort Ord was the largest training base in the western United States and was the major staging ground for operations in the Pacific. Many World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans trained at the former Army base.
When the base was closed in 1994, to honor that connection to many of today’s veterans, land was set aside by for the construction of the cemetery.
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