The American Legion Richard A. Reuther Post 152 refused an offer of $500,000 dollars offered by Williams College to buy the property the Legion occupies at the corner of Spring and Walden Streets.
The property is adjacent to the site of the College’s proposed performing arts center. The offer was made by the College with the intention of incorporating the property into plans for the center.
“One thing the veterans don’t want, they don’t want to leave Spring Street,” post Commander Richard “Bud” Trombley said. “It’s a very important piece of Williamstown.”
The Legion site holds a special meaning for its members. The white clapboard building has been the Legion’s home since 1942, when returning World War II veterans began congregating there.
In addition to the $500,000, the College offered the Legion an additional $30,000 and proposed moving the building. According to The Advocate, the Legion might consider moving to another area on Walden Street next to Robin’s Restaurant.
“They would have to come up with a piece of land for us,” Trombley said. “I don’t know if we’d move the building, or whether they would build us something else.”
The Legion, if moved, would require additions such as an elevator to make the building handicap accessible. “Some of the veterans from World War II are having a tough time getting up those stairs,” Trombley said.
Members of the Legion met last week to draft a response as a counteroffer to the College.
James G. Kolesar, spokesman for the College, said, “We continue to be in discussion on other possibilities.”
Trombley declined to comment further while the Legion is involved in negotiations with the College.
The performing arts center project was announced in the spring of 1998, when Herbert Allen ’62 donated $20 million dollars to the College for the project. The College subsequently hired a planning firm, Sasaki Associates, Inc., to conduct a comparative study to ensure the College had chosen the best possible site for the proposed performing arts center.
This July, the Williams Community Association (WCA) issued a response to the Sasaki report entitled, “Sasaki Report–A Town Perspective.” The response criticized the College for considering site selection without “true town participation,” David Horton, spokesperson for WCA, said “Sasaki’s study and final report was lacking in many critical ways.”
Both the Sasaki Associate report and the WCA response are available at the Milne Public Library in Williamstown.