A local veterans group literally got half of what it wanted at last Monday’s City Council meeting.
American Legion Corbie Ellington Post 126 had previously asked the city to close Trumbo Avenue and deed the property to the organization, which plans to build a new facility.
Instead, Council passed a motion to draft an ordinance closing the street, which would transfer half of the street to the post with the other half retained by the city.
“I know that’s not what you wanted,” Mayor David Perkins told Ronnie Brooks, the post adjutant, “but it’s the best we can do for right now.”
Brooks, Pete Hamm and architect Doug McLoney presented their plan for constructing a new facility and told Council that they needed the street to accommodate expansion, access and parking needs.
They had petitioned for the street closure last February but were instructed to provide Council members with more information.
“You asked us to come back to you when we had more information and a design,” Brooks said. “It is our intent to build that building because we need a one-story unit to accommodate our aging veterans.”
“The current home has a meeting room upstairs and our chairlift is like the mayor, it’s grumpy and only works when it wants to,” Brooks joked.
Trumbo Avenue is a short strip of street in front of the American Legion that deadends at the rear of Pasquale’s Restaurant.
Post 126 owns all of the accessible property to the street between it and the city-owned Veterans Monument property.
Closing the street and establishing an ownership dividing line would not be helpful for the proposed expansion, Brooks said.
“Half the street is not going to help us. We need Trumbo to the curb line,” he said.
Council member Tom Carew asked whether the city could grant a long-term or permanent easement.
City Attorney Joyce Stevens said the city could enter into a lease agreement with the post.
Council member Al Baldwin said he was concerned that such an action could set a precedent for other entities to want to use city property.
Brooks said the street currently serves no purpose but Council member Jan Bishop, who voted against the motion, said her Pasquale’s employees use the area for parking.
Much of the discussion involved questions of whether adequate parking for a new and existing facility could be achieved in accordance with current zoning regulations.
City Planner Joe Parson said he would discuss the matter with the joint planning commission.
Brooks said the solution is exactly what the post sought, but they would continue plans to build a new facility.
“We decided we’ll try to make the best of this situation,” he added. “Our architect will look at redrawing the plans with fewer parking spaces than we really need.”
He said also that the Post does not plan to build immediately and first will pay off some existing debt on the property.
“We don’t want to go beyond our means,” Brooks said.
Noelle Hunter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.