Chapel Hill News

Vets could take year to decide post fate

American Legion Post 6 members are keeping all their options on the table for the organization and its property’s future, Post Commander Lee Heavlin says,

The Chapel Hill post is evaluating how its resources can best be used in the future to serve the needs of older veterans, those returning from the nation’s current wars and their families, Heavlin said. Post 6 serves more than 200 members, plus roughly 500 veterans enrolled at UNC, he said.

The American Legion is more than a social organization, Heavlin said, helping veterans access job services, health care and other benefits, and lobbying the government on their behalf. Post members also give back through community service and fundraising events, scholarships and the Boy Scouts and other youth programs, he said.

Earlier this month, Heavlin said members might make a decision at a Sept. 18 special general membership meeting. But in an interview last week, he said the Post’s members could take at least a year to evaluate their options and make a final decision.

The post could keep its office at 1714 Legion Road, with or without making $500,000 in renovations to the 8,378-square-foot building. Members also could choose to downsize and move to a new location, operate without a physical home or sell all or part of the 35-acre parcel.

The current office was built in 1961, replacing a log cabin that had served the group since the American Legion was founded in 1919. The cabin was located on East Rosemary Street behind the current location of the CVS Plaza.

If members choose to sell the property, the town of Chapel Hill will get the first chance to buy it under an agreement that former Town Manager Cal Horton negotiated in 2005. The town agreed under the deal not to list the American Legion property as a potential school site in its land-use plan.

Town Council members have talked in recent years about the possibility of buying the property for some community use, such as a park. Town and post officials haven’t talked about it, Town Manager Roger Stancil said earlier this month.

If the town bought the land, however, the 2005 agreement wouldn’t stop the schools from using the land for a future school site, he said.