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Renovating American Legion building for next generation of veterans

The Southold American Legion building, home to Griswold Terry Glover Post 803, dates back to the 1880s — and it’s in need of an upgrade.

Commander Charles Sanders said since taking his position in 2016, he’s been inspecting the physical structure of the building to ensure necessary repairs are being made.

As the second-floor ceiling begins to separate, the roof nears collapse and the paint wears off inside the structure, Mr. Sanders pointed out, the building is in desperate need of an upgrade.

“The building is incredibly old [and] because we’re 100% volunteer, the operating expenses are difficult,” he said.

Through fundraising efforts, the Legion has accumulated enough money for a “considerable amount of projects,” Mr. Sanders said, including repaving the parking lots in front of the building and adding a new heating system.

Around Veterans Day, the Lomangino family, which owns Mattituck Environmental Services, donated over $20,000 to the Legion.

Stanley Lomangino said the Legion provides a venue for veterans to meet and shows devotion to veterans and active service members.

“We heard through friends of ours that they were in need for the funds or they would possibly shut down the facility,” Mr. Lomangino said. “We thought this was our way of saying thank you to our veterans — it’s the least we can do.”

Those funds will go directly toward refurbishing the kitchen, Mr. Lomangino said. But Mr. Sanders said it’s not enough to make all the necessary repairs to the building.

In addition to replacing the ceiling and roof and repainting the building, Mr. Sanders said the bar and bathrooms are out of date. The second floor is constructed with plaster, he said, which is decaying.

If the Legion receives additional funding, he intends to gut the second floor and replace it with sheetrock, and include a second-story egress to bring it up to code. That egress is necessary for people using the facility to exit in an emergency.

“What I’m trying to do is to pass the Legion on to the new generation of veterans in a condition that is much better than I received it,” Mr. Sanders said.

He added that the hall in the rear of the building, constructed in the 1950s, is an affordable public venue for private parties and events.

Mr. Sanders served in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012 and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2015. For him, the facility represents one of the “four pillars” of American Legion posts: Americanism.

“It’s right in the center of town. Everyone knows it and passes it,” Mr. Sanders said. “We don’t want people to forget the freedoms that we possess because of veterans.”

Mr. Lomangino encouraged other community members to donate.

“As a country, we would not be where we are today without our veterans; our freedom comes at the cost of many lives lost,” he said. “The least we can do is show our support for our veterans and servicemen and -women that have fought for this country.”

Individuals wishing to donate can write a check to American Legion Post 803. The group is working to create a GoFundMe page, but it has not yet been established.

Photo caption: Southold American Legion Commander Charles Sanders at the Post 803 building Monday. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

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