Lodi American Legion Hall needs donations

A Bergen County veterans hall that is nearly 100 years old may soon be forced to close its doors due to financial concerns.

The American Legion Hall in Lodi has been helping veterans since 1919. A fire nearly destroyed the building nine years ago, and it has been struggling ever since.

"The original building was underinsured," says Commander Fred Hesse. "The cost on this was supposed to be about $330,000, but costs escalated and things kept happening and we ran out of money."

To add insult to injury, several contractors took money for repairs, but never came to finish the work. Luckily, local union workers who worked for free were able to finish the job.

The hall has been rebuilt and should be ready to reopen, save for one more detail: the parking lot.

The parking lot has already been paved, but the town of Lodi says another 2 inches of asphalt must be added to get the permanent certificate of occupancy. That extra 2 inches will cost around $25,000, according to Hesse. It is money the hall doesn't have.

A temporary occupancy permit expires in June. Lodi's zoning officer says he understands the financial hardship and is willing to work with the American Legion to give them more time.

The American Legion is taking donations, which can be sent to P.O. Box 136. Lodi, NJ 07644. Donations are tax-deductible.

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