New VFW building going up at no cost to members

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
10/18/2007

GUILFORD — When builder Steve Spurrell visited the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall more than two years ago, he said he was looking at how to replace the building’s heating and cooling system.

He soon realized that the hall — which he described as “old and tired” — had almost no insulation in the walls, making it “virtually impossible” to install new heating and cooling.

So Spurrell, a partner in Neighborhood Builders Construction Management Inc., and VFW Cmdr. Larry Santamaria, started thinking about replacing the entire building.

“We just kind of opened up the door and said, ‘What if we knock the building down and start from scratch?’” Spurrell said. “The more I thought about it, the more I agreed that it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right time to do it for the veterans.”

Spurrell’s company is now rebuilding the hall at no cost to the VFW post. He has already lined up three firms that have said they will work for no fee on the project, architects Arbonies, King and Vlock; Edward Stanley Engineers; and civil engineering and surveying company Anderson Associates.

“It will be an energy-efficient modern building, and the goal and the ultimate function is to do this absolutely for free to the veterans,” Spurrell said.

He said the new building will be about the same size as the existing one at the same site on Mill Street. He added that he has not done an estimate yet for what the value of the building will be. It will have a similar setup as the current facility, with a large hall and private bar/lounge, but will also include up-to-code features like handicapped-accessible bathrooms and energy-efficient utilities.

The plans for the building have been submitted to the Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning commissions and the Zoning Board of Appeals, Spurrell said, and he hopes to break ground in January.

Santamaria said that the Guilford VFW post, which has about 400 members, purchased the building in the early 1960s, but it is older than that.

“It just got to the point where you needed new furnaces, you needed new this, you needed new that,” he said.

“It’s like an old car, is I guess how I would put it — it gets to the point where you just need to buy a new one.”

The group rents the hall to support VFW activities, which include sending packages to soldiers serving in Iraq and doing local community service.

“I gave back when I was in the service, and I still want to give,” Santamaria said. “It will be a home for the veterans when they get back; a place they can congregate and meet fellow veterans.”

Spurrell said he is hoping that people will offer in-kind donations of services and labor toward construction of the building.

He said he has not started fund-raising for any additional costs.

“I plan to get a substantial portion of the labor that it’s going to take to rebuild this building, and the materials that it’s going to take to do it, I hope to get donated,” he said. “Whatever we can’t get donated, we’ll do fund raising for.”

Anyone interested in donating money or services for the effort can contact Neighborhood Builders Construction Management at 453-3000.

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