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St. Charles to buy downtown VFW building

ST. CHARLES – To Mark Cecchi, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5036 is a wonderful place that has hosted such events as blood drives and Proud Parent Platoon meetings.

Selling the building at 119 N. Third St. in downtown St. Charles is a “very melancholy” event, said Cecchi, the post’s financial officer.

“We’ve had a lot of memorable occasions here,” he said.

On Monday, the St. Charles City Council approved the city’s purchase of the one-story, 5,600-square-foot building, which was built in 1952 and expanded in 1986.

Closing is set for June 14 at a purchase price of $800,000, according to city documents.

According to documents, the city plans to replace the building with a parking lot that, when completed, should have 85 spaces. The document noted the draft comprehensive plan calls for future redevelopment in the area, including a potential public parking garage.

According to the city, it was approached by VFW representatives in October 2011 about selling the building because of increasing maintenance and operating costs and a declining membership. Cecchi said that is a fitting synopsis.

“I’ve been the financial officer for two and a half years now, and I’m here to tell you it’s more a membership issue than a solvency issue,” Cecchi said. “We don’t have the membership to support a building and a property of this size.”

Cecchi, a 13-year Air Force veteran, said selling the post’s home won’t mean an end to its activities, which include regular blood drives, an annual essay contest for students, contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project, contributions to Fox Valley Troop Support and visits from Boy Scout troops.

The post plans to meet where American Legion Post 342 meets at 1150 N. Fifth Ave. in St. Charles, Cecchi said.

In other news, the City Council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal 2013-14 and narrowly approved the final plat of subdivision for Lexington Club. As with the vote in January, the council voted 6-5.

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