State American Legion shuts down Nashua chapter, citing dangers
NASHUA - A slew of problems, including building code violations, wage complaints and drug activity forced the American Legion to close its Nashua location.
This leaves Nashua veterans without an official place of assembly, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars post is still looking for a place to move.
The Nashua Fire Marshal and the city have received multiple complaints over the years involving operations at the Legion’s James Coffey Post No. 3 at 11 Court St. That coupled with employees making wage complaints to the Department of Labor over the past 30-60 days led to the temporary closure, said Dan Yoder, the New Hampshire American Legion Adjutant.
“We have an obligation to our membership to ensure they are getting the services they are entitled to,” Yoder said.
The chapter has 400-500 members.
The building had been deemed unusable by the city after many problems went unfixed, and the post has not had an assembly permit since 2013. The city had given the Legion leeway to fix the structure problems, Yoder said, but the building still went neglected.
The Liquor Commission also pulled the site's liquor license after learning about the other violations. Yoder said the commission had already been considering pulling the license before the other problems came to light.
Earlier this year, Gelsomina Rubino, of Litchfield, pleaded guilty to selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers while working at the Legion, according to The Telegraph of Nashua.
Yoder said the decision to close the site wasn’t an easy one, but they were concerned about the Legion’s image.
“We have to protect the name and the veterans in the community,” Yoder said.
The American Legion is currently conducting its own investigation but likely will end up involving law enforcement in the investigation as well, Yoder said.
He said the Nashua post is the second one closed by the state assembly in recent years. The other post is the E. Roger Mongomery Post 81 in Contoocook. That post recently reopened.
The American Legion hopes to be able to reopen the Nashua building once the problems are fixed. If it’s forced to move, its future could be uncertain.
VFW Post 483 has been looking for a new home in the city for more than two years. They sold their former location on Quincy Street to the Nashua Soup Kitchen because they no longer needed the space. However, their search for a new building has been hindered by costs and opposition from parents and aldermen to one location near a school.
The American Legion in Nashua was one of the first three to open in the state since the group was founded in 1919.
Yoder said through fundraising and volunteerism, the Legion hopes to bring its home back to life.
“We have the responsibility to be something the city can be proud of,” he said.
Tonight at 5 p.m. on NH1 News on WBIN-TV, Colleen Shaughnessy speaks with veterans about the lack of a place for camaraderie in the Gate City.