After more than four years, the VA Task Force held their final meeting this morning as the group chose to dissolve. Task Force Chair Harv Sprafka said the group felt it was in their best interest to back off and let the group of James Washington of Knoxville Manufacturing, Kowalenko Consulting Group out of Chicago, IL and Robra Construction from Virginia Beach, VA continue with their vision for the campus. Sprafka said there were several reasons why they made this decision. He said the groups were running parallel with many of their views and because the other group is a private entity and the task force has governmental ties it was best for them to part ways. In addition, Sprafka says since both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Washington’s group are looking to pursue an enhanced use lease for the campus, and the task force’s proposal did not include that option, it would work better for Washington and company to try and work with the VA while the task force stepped down. Sprafka says several of the task force members will remain in contact with James Washington and his group to serve as economic development advisors and their knowledge and relationships should be very beneficial to the group.
Sprafka adds that he is proud of what the group has accomplished in the past four years. He says they have been through a lot, and while there were moments of frustration he appreciates the fact the task force was able to build relationships, keep the region and legislature informed, complete a design study and get input from the community. Overall, Sprafka says it was a great experience he is anxious to see how the process unfolds with Washington and his group’s vision for the campus.