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New American Legion home in Martinsburg delayed

December 06, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Plans by American Legion Post 14 to build a new home in Martinsburg apparently have been hampered by an IRS lien that was placed on the veterans organization, Post Commander Bob Speaks told Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin last month.

In a Nov. 21 letter to Baldwin, Speaks said the IRS placed a lien on Post 14, a nonprofit organization, for failing to file tax information, slowing efforts to obtain financing for the project until recently.

“We have resolved all issues with the IRS ... to ensure that this does not happen again,” Speaks wrote.

“We are starting the mortgage process again and feel that if the economy does not go through a serious downturn, we will be successful.”

The veterans organization sold the building it owned at 125 W. Race St. to the city in November 2008 for $550,000 and the city subsequently agreed to lease the property back to Post 14 for $500 per month. That lease agreement, which has previously been extended, remains in effect, according to city officials.

While the organization’s credit rating and financial position has “improved greatly” since the IRS action, Speaks said Post 14 would like the city to extend the lease agreement to January 2013 to allow time for construction.  

The Martinsburg City Council is expected to vote on the request Thursday during its regular meeting at 232 N. Queen St., in Martinsburg.

Speaks said in an interview Tuesday that they are “real close” to obtaining a loan for the new facility and hope to begin construction in early spring.

Post 14 bought 4.1 acres in the 500 block of South Spring Street at auction for $125,000 in October 2008 from Berkeley County.

Post leaders have said the club’s new home south of East Stephen Street would be fully handicap-accessible, unlike the current building. They also outlined plans for building a picnic pavilion and a meditation area that would be available to older residents at nearby Senior Towers.

In January 2009, Post 14 received approval from the city’s zoning appeals board to open a private social club in a residential area. At that time, no one attending a public hearing held on the proposal opposed the project, but city officials did receive notice from three residents who were concerned about safety, noise and adequate notice of the public hearing.

The council acquired the American Legion property as part of a plan to expand City Hall to provide more room for the city police department, municipal court and other offices.

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