Thursday, August 6, 2020

West Concord task force will look at Legion, 207 Main options

West Concord City Council members have agreed to set the wheels in motion to organize a task force of community members to consider the issues around a community center and the futures of both the current American Legion Hall and the former hardware store.

Adeline Schletty, Donna Fitzgerald and other members of the West Concord Legion Post and Auxiliary came to last week’s council meeting to ask if the city was interested in joining with others in the community to find a solution to the current situation.

The American Legion Hall downtown is in poor repair and would cost more to fix than the Legion Post can afford. The hall also serves as a major gathering place for community get-togethers. 

The West Concord EDA purchased the former hardware store building on Main Street last summer and currently has it listed for sale. In the meantime the building has been used for Christmas in West Concord and other community events.

In response to a question from Councilmember Al Gilbert regarding an earlier committee that was set up to look at options, Fitzgerald said that group was formed but “nothing really happened” and meetings were not held.

Gilbert said “something needs to be done” about the situation, whether it’s repairing the current Legion, building a new building or making use of the hardware store building.

Schletty said any task force formed needs to include a variety of people and organizations in the city including the churches.

Legion Member Joe Quam said the Post realizes that the best scenario for the city would be to sell the old hardware store building and get it back on the tax roll. The Legion Hall is not in imminent danger of collapsing, he said, but something does need to be done.

Legion Commander Myron Ehrich pointed out that a Legion Hall/Community Center will keep events such as weddings and parties in West Concord rather than going out-of-town.

Schletty added that the Legion and Auxiliary only need a place to meet but both groups are committed to the community.

Mayor Jeffrey McCool said he appreciated the worth of the Legion and Auxiliary to the community and still believes in a community effort to come up with a solution. He said the previous committee had fallen apart and now that the Legion has approached the council he believed the city had more power.

He said the city could now take that community interest and re-organize a committee.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” McCool said. He said the city bought the old hardware store building with money received from Rochester sales taxes because council members did not want the building to deteriorate or became a storage building like some other structures on Main Street.

The city got $80,000 from Rochester with the stipulation that it be used for economic development. The hardware store building, he said, was purchased using $40,000 of that money.


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