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Butler VA outpatient center builder's attorney offers no comment

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By Bill Vidonic
Saturday, July 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

An attorney for the prime contractor of a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient center being built in Butler County declined to comment Friday about the VA's investigation of the contractor that led the agency to stop work on the $75 million project.

John R. Climaco of Cleveland, who represents Westar Development Co. and its offshoot, VA Butler Partners Co., offered a “no comment” when asked about the stop work order issued June 21 by the VA's Office of Acquisitions, Logistics and Construction.

“Prior to the stop work order, the lessor had begun design activities, and preliminary site preparation had begun. Since the VA is in the early stages of the project, there has been minimal contractor presence on site,” VA spokeswoman Genevieve Billia said.

The VA received allegations that led it to look into VA Butler Partners Co. and some of the company's representatives, and the VA's Office of Inspector General produced “initial findings” that led to work being halted, another VA spokeswoman, Joanne Moffett, said.

The work stoppage, first reported on Friday by the Tribune-Review, surprised officials in Butler Township, where the center is being built next to the VA's main campus, which contains medical and related facilities.

“We want the project to happen,” township Solicitor Larry Lutz said. “It's good for the community and good for the township.”

VA Butler Partners was incorporated in Delaware, according to online records, and registered in Pennsylvania March 6.

Westar paid Butler Township nearly $2.4 million for land to house the outpatient center. Westar also bought land from the adjoining Butler Memorial Park.

Owner Anthony Simms did not return a phone message.

Lutz said the township had been talking to VA Butler Partners representatives in the last couple of weeks about project issues, including PennDOT approval of road upgrades and easements, which he said were imminent.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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