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Large Crowd Attends VA Public Hearing

Posted: Friday, November 5th, 2010 at 6:30 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News-Samantha Smith

Around 125 people attended a public hearing with local and national Department of Veterans Affairs representatives last night to discuss the future Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) of the Knoxville VA campus. VA officials from the national office in Washington DC were on hand to explain the purpose of choosing to enter an EUL for the local campus which they stated was to be able to give the space back to the community and make sure the campus will be used to help veterans. Several veterans organizations were represented at the meeting along with local and county officials, health care professionals, business people and interested citizens. Both James Washington and Bob Krause were in attendance to listen to feedback from the community and VA officials and briefly explain their proposals for the campus. Dozens of individuals asked questions and voiced their opinions about the future of the Knoxville VA. A variety of feedback was received touching on topics such as the necessity of a veterans shelter and rehabilitation center, questions about how the proposals will be funded, when the EUL will begin, how the proposals will affect the Knoxville community and economy. VA officials say after collecting the feedback from the public they plan to send out a Request for Proposal within the next month or so which will be posted for 60 to 90 days. At that time an Industry Forum will be held to listen to presentations from the groups who submit proposals for the campus. If there are multiple proposals submitted, officials say best case scenario, the Enhanced Use Lease will be signed a year from now. However, if the different entities can agree to work together and come up with one joint proposal it could be as soon as eight months. Future town hall meetings will be held to get additional feedback from the Knoxville community and VA representatives say they want to keep the process as open as possible.