The American Legion Huntington Post 360 will now pay the town of Huntington $1,200 a year to lease the town-owned land under its hall in Halesite.
At the Nov. 6 board meeting, the town board voted unanimously in favor of renewing the American Legion's long-standing lease, which began in 1939 for a parcel of land on the corner of Mill Dam Road and New York Avenue.
The original lease was $1 a year, said Glenn Rodriguez, an Air Force tech sergeant, Gulf War veteran and adjutant of the post.
"It went up to match what the Elwood VFW pays the town," he said of the new rent in a phone interview.
Rodriguez said while the new rent amount "deviates from past practice," he and the legion were not opposed to the increase. "The dollar is really a symbolic amount," he added. "You're not going to balance the town budget on that."
The legion's main concern was that the new five-year lease was a land lease and that it specified that the town does not own the building, Rodriguez said.
Town councilman Eugene Cook, who sponsored the resolution for the new lease, said the agreement will include language to clarify the building's ownership.
The history of the legion hall began as World War II loomed. Post historian and former Commander Roy Bunce fundraised for the building, including soliciting contributions from Marshall Field III, who lived nearby in Caumsett. He brokered the original lease with town Supervisor Arthur Kreutzer in 1939, according to an essay he wrote and provided by Rodriguez. The facility was completed in 1942.
"I was determined ... to build a Club House for our members and the new members I anticipated would be joining the Post as a result of the impending World War," Bunce wrote in the essay.
Cook said he was pleased the American Legion had a presence in the town.
"These are our heroes," Cook said. "I'm thrilled that they're there and they're a big asset to the town of Huntington."