Fitchburg Legion Post 429 Closes
FITCHBURG -- Financial troubles and declining membership led the city’s last American Legion hall to close its doors.
Post 429, which is located in the Cleghorn Neighborhood, closed Sunday, the group announced on Facebook.
“We did all we could and it couldn’t get them out of debt,” said Bill Saladini, commander of American Legion Post 10, who worked with Post 429 to raise money in an attempt to save the hall.
He worked with the group’s commander, Jack Walker, and helped set up a meeting with representatives from the national group to see if they could offer Post 429 support, but it was too late.
Walker was not available for comment Thursday.
The Daniels Street hall was a place for veterans to have a drink and meet with others who have served the country.
7,200 square feet
That space is about about 7,200 square feet and was built around 1900, according to city property records. The building and the land it sits on is valued at $332,700.
It was a sad day for the city when the post closed, said city Veterans Commissioner Michele Marino.
Saladini said members of Post 429, which doesn’t have a dedicated hall, are welcome to apply to join his group, which meets at the South Fitchburg Social Club. He wants give the people who have already paid their dues for the year a place to go.
“American Legion 429 is one of our brothers,” Saladini said.
He has already talked to a few members who are interested in transferring over to Post 10.
Leading up to the hall’s closure, Saladini and Marino looked for ways to help Post 429, Saladini said.
In August, they worked with Walker to organize a comedy show to benefit the hall that raised more than $1,000.
Another factor that led to Post 429′s closing was declining membership, Saladini said.
As members get older, there aren’t younger ones to replace them, he said.
Saladini, who is also a member of the city’s Veterans Council, has worked to reach out to younger veterans, like through the Fire Department where he worked.
He has used those efforts with Post 10, which was down to about 25 members when he took over as commander. The group now has 45 members.
Having more members helps the American Legion give back in the city through efforts like scholarships, sponsorships for local sports teams, and holiday toy drives, Saladini said.
“We need younger people to get involved,” he said.
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