By Jessica Mathews /

It looks as though Livingston County Veterans Services has found a new building to occupy and better serve local veterans.

The Veterans Committee met virtually Wednesday evening and approved a motion to have Director Mary Durst proceed with a partnership with Cleary University and lease agreement for office space on their Genoa Township campus. A previous plan to lease the old Art Van Sleep Center building fell through. Durst commented that she approached Cleary about possibly leasing a small office building totaling a little over 3,000-square-feet that used to be a registration office but has been sitting vacant.

Committee Chair Joe Riker stated Cleary was excited about working together. He said they were originally planning to tear the building down but were open to helping Veterans Services and investing into the property via exterior improvements. Riker noted the building has been sitting empty so there’s no rush for Cleary. He said Cleary was not in it for the profit and is also focused on becoming more veteran friendly. Riker pointed out the square footage cost difference could easily be a savings of $6,000, and they’ll have more savings every year from the reduced annual increase.

Durst will be getting clarification on different aspects of interior and exterior improvements and who would be responsible for what. It was noted the parking lot and sidewalk need to be fixed and the building needs a new roof. Parts of the agreement worked out will also help save money for the department. Durst said they were able to reduce the square footage cost to $10.50 versus $12.50, as well as the proposed lease increase of 3% annually, instead of 5%. Since a five year lease is proposed instead of ten like before, it was stated the department has the option to move if needed.

The proposed partnership and lease now head to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners for final approvals at the November 9th meeting, pending a legal review.