- Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 17:20
- Published on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:20
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King George’s county attorney, Eric Gregory, has asked for a “detailed report specifying Project FAITH’s plan to comply with the terms of the Deed and Agreement, including financing and construction timelines” in regard to the proposed HELP Center.
The requests were contained in a three-page July 1 letter that was mailed last week to Phyllis Ashton, president of the Project FAITH board.
On behalf of the county, he also requested “a detailed explanation specifying how the project remains viable in light of these challenges.”
Gregory stated that the county wants it to include, “a detailed report concerning how Project FAITH intends to proceed with the project, with particular regard to (1) financing; (2) construction planning and administration, including timelines consistent with the terms of the Deed and Agreement; (3) prospective tenants; and, (4) a revised Operations Plan, which would be warranted given the matters addressed herein.”
The July 1 letter also specified various facts. It stated, “Certain facts have come to light that have drawn the viability of the project into question and there is a serious doubt as to whether Project-FAITH will be able to fulfill its obligations.”
The letter also says, “The County would be particularly interested in understanding the financial details of the project, with particular regard to funding agencies involved, levels of commitment, and contracts or agreements Project FAITH has entered into or may be considering or pending.”
Gregory added, “If you have letters of commitment, proposals, loan documents, or the like from prospective or actual funding agencies, your sharing these documents would be most appreciated.”
OPERATIONS PLAN NO “LONGER INTACT”
Gregory stated in the county letter sent to Ashton last week, “Fundamental aspects of the original Operations Plan are no longer intact.”
He enumerated several of those aspects, noting that the King George Health Department is no longer a potential partner or tenant, and that Rappahannock Community College (RCC) has no immediate plans to locate its operations in the HELP Center, and would not do so to the extent that would fulfill its portion of the project operating budget.
Gregory also pointed out that since the project was passed over for a Community Development Block Grant, there is a known $700,000 hole in the proposed project budget.
In addition, the letter states that it is “uncertain” if the King George Department of Social Services “would or could commit” to relocating to the HELP Center location because “such a move would require approval from the state and local government agencies with Department oversight authority.” The same might be said for the Extension office.
He also stated that the Amended Deed and Agreement require all footers for the HELP Center buildings to be poured by Aug. 1, 2013, and construction to be completed by next year’s deadline, adding that “neither site preparation work or clearing or any construction work has begun.”
Further, The Journal has learned that no building permit application has yet been submitted. King George Community Development staff tells applicants that such a review can take up to 45 days. It’s difficult to envision that potential review, along with contracting for the work and then the actual clearing, grading and pouring of footers are likely to be completed in the next three weeks, prior to August 1.
PARTICULAR CONCERN REGARDING ALTERED LETTER
Gregory’s letter also addresses the fact of Froncé Wardlaw’s admission for altering a three-year-old letter that came from Rappahannock Community College in 2010, that she admitted was “updated.” The alteration resulted in erasing two years to make it read as though it was written more recently, in 2012. The alternation has been disavowed by RCC.
Wardlaw is the executive director of Project FAITH. (See related article elsewhere in this issue for background details on the altered letter and previous action taken by Supervisors in regard to the project.)
Gregory states, “The admission of responsibility for the altered letter is of particular concern because of the potential to mislead others, including government officials, funding agencies, and the public, concerning a key component of the project, as envisioned and proposed in the Operations Plan.”
Gregory stresses the “serious impact” of each of the enumerated issues, on the entire project, “both individually and in the aggregate.” He added, “The County is requesting you to provide a detailed explanation specifying how the project remains viable in light of these challenges.”
COUNTY’S POTENTIAL EXPOSURE
Gregory also notes the past successful partnership with Project FAITH, noting the county “has repeatedly expressed its support for the HELP Center project in word and deed.”
He added, “The County, however, has serious concerns regarding the viability of this project and the County’s potential exposure should the project fail at any current or future stage. These reasonable inquiries are being made in good faith to understand how the project will proceed given the current circumstances and realities.”
In closing, Gregory’s letter states, “If, in the exchange of information regarding the project, it becomes clear that the project is not likely to succeed, it is the County’s hope and desire to protect all involved and move forward together on other projects that may benefit the citizens of King George County. It is hoped that through this process, a fair and reasonable resolution, respectful of the interests of the County and Project FAITH, can be achieved.”
As of Tuesday, July 9, there has been no written response to the county from Project FAITH.
But answers could be coming publicly this week.
Wardlaw has announced that she is hosting a community forum this week on Thursday, July 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Dahlgren UMW campus. She has indicated that project team members will be available to address written questions from the floor following a detailed report on the HELP Center project.