Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

August 21, 2013

VA has no answers

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — In light of James Washington's consideration of transferring the Knoxville Veterans Alliance's rights to the enhanced use lease for the Knoxville VA campus to the City, a series of questions were submitted by the Journal-Express to the VA. The VA responded this morning, saying they have no answers.

The questions below were submitted to Maina Gakure, the VA official in Washington overseeing the transition of the Knoxville campus, on Aug. 15. 

Can the KVA transfer the EUL rights to the City of Knoxville?

What would have to be done to do that, if the City is interested?

At this point, will the campus go to GSA before it could be transferred to the City? 

If the City is able to receive the EUL, is there funding available to assist the City with ongoing expenses and necessary repairs?

What would be the process to get this funding?

Is the VA or Department of Interior willing to give ownership of the campus to the City? 

In the past, you have said that the VA wants what is best for Knoxville and would not leave the campus in disrepair. How much longer do you anticipate the buildings sitting idle before further action can or will be taken? 

If the KVA is unable to lease the property, has the VA given any further thought to how the department itself might be able to once again utilize some of the 163 acres and 39 buildings? Considering the investment the VA has made in Knoxville, and continues to make through utility costs, does the decision to essentially close the campus still remain a reasonable one? 

Gakure was out of town and did not respond until Aug. 20, in which he apologized for not responding. No answers were received. 

On Wednesday morning, Josephine Schuda, Public Affairs Officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs, sent this reply:

Mr. Woodhouse:  Mr. Gakure of VA’s Construction and Facilities Management forwarded your questions to his headquarters office about the stalled lease situation for the Knoxville VA campus. 

Apparently, those questions have not been raised to the program offices in VA that would be involved.  I am told, therefore, there are no answers available to give you at this time.   VA’s Asset Management office and its Veterans Health Administration will discuss this situation which you’ve brought to VA’s attention.

When you believe some progress or decisions have been made, feel free to contact me for information.  

In a follow-up message, Schuda clarified that internal discussions needed to take place within the VA before the submitted questions could be answered. 

We will continue to follow developments regarding the VA campus as they occur.