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ABQ Fisher House a step closer to approval

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Another hurdle has been cleared in bringing a Fisher House to New Mexico, as stakeholders have signed a memorandum of agreement allowing the project to move forward.

Fisher Houses provide a free place for military members and their families to stay while the veteran is receiving medical care.

The 16-suite home will be located on the parade grounds on the campus of the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque.

“The completion of the memorandum of agreement is a very important step,” Fisher House Foundation President Dave Coker wrote in an email. “We are aware that the veterans of New Mexico need a Fisher House and we are excited to be one step closer to making that happen.”

The project had run into problems, because the selected site sits within a federal historic district.

The Fisher House Foundation uses a similar design for each of its houses, which includes a pitched roof.

That wouldn’t fit in well with the flat-roofed structures already on the hospital’s campus, the State Historical Preservation Office argued.

Fisher House Foundation worried that a flat roof would make the project too expensive.

While it’s unclear what decisions were made regarding the roof, the memorandum signed by the New Mexico VA Medical Center, the Fisher House Foundation, the State Historical Preservation Office and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation gives the project the green light.

Sonja Brown, associate director of the New Mexico VA Health Care System, said ground will likely not be broken until 2019, but the contract for site preparation has already been awarded.

The $6 million project will be funded in part by the Fisher House Foundation. A community group is working to raise the other half.

Rita Navarette, who is leading the advocacy group, said they’ve raised $285,000 so far.

There are currently 75 Fisher Houses throughout the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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