Johnstown Independent

Village, Post 254 close to deal on rec-center rental


After a long negotiation process, the American Legion Post 254 and the village of Johnstown are close to an agreement that would allow the post to rent the recreation center.

Both parties are interested in a long-term deal, and the eventual agreement could be a nominal cost per month -- as low as $1 per year for 99 years. Post 254 would be responsible for upkeep costs and paying utilities and other bills.

Bruce Tolle, Post 254 spokesman and former commander, said the deal would be a win-win for both sides.

"It's of mutual benefit for us to take it over and start paying utility bills and all that kind of stuff because they don't get much use out of it, but the bills have to be paid," Tolle told ThisWeek. "We need more space because we're located downtown, where we have virtually no parking."

Johnstown Mayor Sean Staneart echoed Tolle's sentiments and said the deal would benefit both sides and make the process easier. He said the village merely is putting in its due diligence before completing the deal.

"Both sides are working toward the same goal," he said. "Usually, whenever something like that is going on, you can get where you want to go fairly quickly. The American Legion is on a bit of a fast schedule, and sometimes with the government, it takes us a little while to move a big ship and make sure everything is done properly."

Staneart said that only "paperwork issues and a lot of legalese" are preventing the deal from getting completed more quickly. He said the village wants to avoid any future problems, even though things seem easy right now.

"We don't want to have a situation down the road where either party is interpreting something different and creating a conflict between the two parties," he said. "We want to iron those things out now."

Tolle said he anticipated a draft of the contract being done any day, but he knows the process can be a difficult one.

"We have no doubt this is going to happen," he said. "We're just not quite sure when it's going to happen."

The facility, at 185 W. Maple St., comprises 4,000 square feet and sits on about 10.8 acres off North Williams Street. It has an occupancy rate of 200 people.

With access to the larger facility, Tolle said, the post would be much more capable of putting on its own events and functions, and its members finally would have the space they need.

"It's a facility that's not getting used very much, and we can make great use of it," he said, using last week's Pancake Day as an example. "We have to use the school because we don't have the facilities ourselves."

The post's annual pancake and auction was a huge success, Tolle said. Although he isn't sure exactly how much money was raised yet, the post will aim for more golf packages to auction off next year.

Tolle said he quickly realized golf freebies have become the event's main funds generator.

"This 'Golf Extravaganza,' as we named it, turned out to be very prolific, very profitable, and it worked out real well," he said. "As we go into the spring, we're going to have more golf, and I'll be getting as many donation of golf rounds as I can each year."