Community News dsc_0251

Published on September 29th, 2016 |

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Buckhead American Legion Post 140 seeking to replace decaying meeting hall

The commander of American Legion Post 140 in Buckhead appeared before the Zoning Committee of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Sept. 27, seeking support for replacing its decaying meeting hall on the southern edge of Chastain Park with a new facility.

The present American Legion Post 140 meeting hall at Chastain Park.

The present American Legion Post 140 meeting hall at Chastain Park.

The post owns 3 acres that stretches from Powers Ferry Road to Lake Forest Drive adjacent to Chastain Park. The post owns a rustic meeting hall on the property that it uses for its twice-monthly gatherings and rents for community events.

“Everyone in this area knows this post,” said American Legion Post 140 Commander Ken DeSimone said. “I’ve been amazed. It’s sort of an icon in this community.” A scout troop and the Buckhead 50 Club also meet at the property.

“There’s a lot of new blood in the American Legion,” said DeSimone, who was named post commander in July and who is police chief in Sandy Springs. “The new guys are saying, ‘We’ve got to continue community involvement.”

Originally, the post planned to renovate the meeting hall, which was constructed in the 1930s—to replace old wiring, add insulation and improve other parts of the facility. But a committee evaluated the property and determined improvements were not enough.

So they have drawn up a plan to demolish the existing building—which they determined has no historical significance—and replace it with a new structure that will be more useful for additional uses by a variety of community groups.

Rear elevation rendering of the proposed new meeting hall structure. The top photo shows the front elevation.

Rear elevation rendering of the proposed new meeting hall structure. The top photo shows the front elevation.

DeSimone told the NPU-B committee they discovered that a lot of the timbers in the building are rotted and there is a hole in the kitchen floor that is covered only by a piece of plywood. He said the building has to be replaced.

The NPU-B committee was shown renderings of a lodge-style three-story facility that would blend in well with the Chastain Park area and the surrounding woods. They were told the new facility would be constructed on the same footprint as the existing structure.

Post 140 is in the process of seeking a Special Use Permit from the city to move forward with its plans for the new facility and other improvements to the property. But those changes are still some time off in the future, DeSimone said, because of the cost involved with the plans. It is going to require a great deal of fundraising.

One suggestion the post officers had received from those who live in the Chastain and North Buckhead communities was to find an impervious surface for the parking spaces. DeSimone said they are following through on that suggestion.

While appeared before the NPU-B group, the post’s property actually lies within the district of NPU-A, which will officially bless the post’s plans with the city. DeSimone was going to NPU-B to get

This map shows the landscape for the meeting hall (in orange) the T-ball field and parking lot in relation to Chastain Park and the North Fulton Golf Course, top left.

This map shows the landscape for the meeting hall (in orange) the T-ball field and parking lot in relation to Chastain Park and the North Fulton Golf Course, top left.

a letter of support for the proposed project, which the committee endorsed.

One of the Zoning Committee members, Frank Toye, spoke in favor or the project, citing how the post had been so cooperative with the surrounding community over the years. He pointed to a recent situation whereby the post has allowed construction of a T-ball field on the Legion’s property in cooperation with the Neighborhood Youth Organization.

DeSimone said post leaders hope more local groups will use the new facility, and learn about the post and its history. “We want to rent it … to people here in the neighborhood to use it for neighborhood functions,” he said.

Post 140 now enrolls about 200 active dues-paying members, and serves veterans spread across metro Atlanta, although most members live in Buckhead, Sandy Springs or Brookhaven, DeSimone said, adding that the post is growing.

DeSimone said community involvement is one of the pillars of the American Legion. Post 140’s new efforts to reach out to its neighbors doesn’t show a change of attitude, but a new emphasis.

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