LARGO -- A committee evaluating sites for a new, $30-million-plus state nursing home for military veterans favors sites in St. Lucie, Marion and Collier counties over two in Manatee County.
The Site Selection Committee for the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs rated nine sites Tuesday in six counties on a point system, according to Steve Murray, department communications director and a spokesman for the committee.
A site in St. Lucie County took the top spot with 1,693.9 points, Marion County took second with 1,672.9 and a Collier County site took third with 1,453, Murray said after the meeting at the Mary Grizzle Building in Largo.
Manatee County's two sites came in at the bottom, at eighth and ninth with 1,156.5 and 1,101.5 points, respectively.
"We were really at the end of the pack," said Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle, who attended the meeting. "I guess they just didn't like our location, so that's the way it is."
Bustle noted the VA plans to eventually build more such homes in Florida.
"If we get another opportunity to compete again, I guess we'll look for some other places," said Bustle. "I know the staff looked real hard and found these two."
Manatee's proposed sites were at 3009-3333 Lena Road and 7101 Cortez Road West.
Other counties proposing sites for the 120-bed nursing home included Polk and Putnam.
Committee score sheets will be sent to VA headquarters to be formally recorded, and then reviewed by Executive Director Mike Prendergast, said Murray.
Prendergast will send the results to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, which will make the final decision Aug. 19 during a meeting in West Palm Beach, said Murray.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.