Johnstown Independent

American Legion Post 254

Village Council mulls alternative to land donation

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

It appears a possible deal to give American Legion Post 254 some village-owned, vacant land to build a new headquarters will not happen.

Instead, Johnstown officials are considering an idea to offer the post an opportunity to use the village recreation center for its home base, former post commander Bruce Tolle said.

Johnstown village administrator Jim Lenner said Sept. 5 that Village Council members discussed the land proposal in an executive session Sept. 3.

"It all depends on my discussions with them if they are amenable to any agreement," he said of talking to post officials.

Tolle, who handles communications for the post, said Sept. 5 that Lenner has talked to Post 254 Commander Gordon Cromwell.

"The land we wanted to get, they decided they didn't want to do that," Tolle said. "There's a lot of drawbacks (to the recreation center). It's not our first choice, and we may decide to look for (vacant) land elsewhere."

Post officials will, however, look at the recreation center on Maple Street, northwest of the downtown, and will consider the possibility to lease it for $1 a year. It would remain a village-owned facility, though, Tolle said.

Legion officials approached council members Aug. 6, asking them to consider giving the post at least one of three acres of vacant land just north of the village administrative offices at 599 S. Main St.

Post 254, with a membership of 160 to 180, has outgrown it's longtime home in a two-story brick building at 44 S. Main St. That building has only enough space for 60 people in its meeting room, and various events have had to be held elsewhere because of the space limitations.

Cromwell told council last month that a 40-by-70-foot metal building, with either a brick or stone facade, could be built. Post 254 had hoped to get the land donated or perhaps get a 99-year lease at $1 a year.

Tolle said Sept. 5 that the best plan is to be able to build a facility, using money from a fundraising project, to ensure that it has what Post 254 needs. That would include having a large kitchen and a large meeting room that could be divided into smaller meeting rooms.

One issue that was discussed three years ago and brought up during the Aug. 6 council meeting was whether the Monroe Township Fire Department still would be interested in a land swap with the village. The fire department would take over the 5-acre municipal offices site, including the vacant land, and the village would get fire department facilities in the downtown.

Lenner said he recently talked to Monroe Township trustees, who told him the township has no interest in such a swap at this time. Lenner said the land-swap idea still could come up in the future.

Legion officials have said a new headquarters building would be a community resource -- one used for various functions.

Post members put in thousands of hours of volunteer work each year in the community and sponsor such events as the Fourth of July fireworks, youth baseball teams and various donation projects.

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