11/06/11 9:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Mitchell Post 281 Commander Mike Loriz shows the condition of the roof over the bowling area at town-owned Legion Hall. .

A group of American Legion members from Mitchell Post 281, wearing their Legion caps, showed up at the October 25 Town Board work session led by Post Commander Mike Loriz, who asked the town to take a more active role in repairing the Legion Hall and in planning how to use the site as a community center.

“I think we hoped to have a little more cooperation,” Mr. Loriz said on behalf of the Legion, “and maybe a little more political leadership in trying to achieve the goals that we set out a little over three years ago,” when the Legion agreed to sell the hall to the town for $1. He estimated that the Legion, through fundraising, had spent $150,000 on the town-owned building’s repair, inside and out.

The agreement made between the Legion and the town on August 1, 2008, acknowledges that the Legion Hall, currently home to Mitchell Post 281 and the town’s Youth Center, requires the town to address “significant maintenance” issues as “expeditiously as reasonably possible.”

“We are facing some pretty significant structural problems with the building,” Commander Loriz said. He said that the roof and south wall were in bad shape and that the pin-setting machine adjacent to the south wall was showing signs of “internal conflict.”

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said that consulting engineer John Cronin had inspected the building that morning and reported that there had been no “significant deterioration” since last January when he recommended that strain gauges, which measure crack separation in a wall, be installed. Town officials have talked about installing the gauges for the past year. After inspecting the wall last week, Mr. Cronin again recommended that the strain gauges be put in place.

Legion Sergeant-at-Arms Fred Ogar expressed frustration in an interview Monday that the building is no closer to being a community center than in 2008. “We thought that when we turned it over to the town that it would become a community center; it just never happened.” He said that the foundation wall is caving in, the shingles are falling off of the roof and the boiler’s “no good.”

Replacing the Legion’s boiler was the first item on the agenda for last week’s work session.

Supervisor Dougherty said that the town is “aggressively” acting to replace the  “dinosaur” because a modern unit would pay for itself in two or three heating seasons in increased efficiency.

“You should save about 50 percent” on heating costs, plumber and council candidate Will Anderson said from the audience.

Mr. Ogar said on Monday that he didn’t believe that a new boiler would cut down on heating costs because “the place is not insulated.”

The new boiler is expected to cost $25,000 to $28,000, which, according to Highway Superintendent Mark Ketcham, is on hand in the town budget. He said he planned to use money that was allocated to repair groins at Shell Beach and improving town landings. He told board member Christine Lewis the boiler project would be finished by Christmas.