After more than four years, the VA Task Force held their final meeting Tuesday 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 Knoxville Veteran Growth Alliance, comprised 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 and 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 growth alliance to try and work with the VA while the task force stepped down.
James Washington tells KNIA/KRLS news he was surprised to hear the VA Task Force had been dissolved. He said Sprafka and his team were an intricate part of establishing the networking that made him apprised of the VA’s availability, and is hopefully that members of the group will continue to offer advice, wisdom and expertise. Washington says the Knoxville Veteran Growth Alliance is a united effort to develop the VA campus and will continue to work with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs through the final stages of the process.
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.