The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill earmarking funds for the repair of the gymnasium at the Veterans Affairs' Sepulveda health center in North Hills, U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) announced Thursday.
The bill provides $101.1 billion for various projects, including veterans' benefits. McKeon and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills) were among those who asked for and obtained language in the bill requiring that Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center use the remainder of earthquake repair funds allocated in 1994 to repair the gym.
A similar bill is pending in the Senate. If passed, the bill would allocate up to $3.4 million for the gym repairs, effective Oct. 1, 2001.
The gym, which was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, was pronounced unsafe by federal officials and closed last fall. The pool and locker room of the complex had been closed since the earthquake, but veterans had continued to use the gym.
The cost of refurbishing the gym has been estimated at more than $3.5 million, said Beverly Fitzgerald, VA director of public affairs for Los Angeles.
Fitzgerald said she and other VA officials opposed the bill because they felt the money should be spent on more vital patient care needs. VA officials said that $3.428 million was left from the fund as of April 11, but that they have identified $2.1 million in other earthquake repair needs.