American Legion Post #1424 under new leadership
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Oct 02, 2019 | 958 views | 0 0 comments | 99 99 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s a new day for American Legion Continental Post #1424 in Forest Hills.

After two years facing an uncertain future, the Post is back in full gear and under new leadership.

The post held elections in June and chose Suzanne Parker as the new post commander. she replaced Tom Long, who held the position for years.

“Usually in the past, the post takes a break after June and starts up again in September, so we’ve taken that time to really work on the building, work on administrative paperwork and get structure and strategy for the next phase,” Parker said.

The post’s old leadership considered selling the Metropolitan Avenue building due to a lack of personnel to maintain it.

Board member Mike Arcati recalled low attendance at meetings, with only about five members out of 100 showing up.

“When word got out that the building was going to be sold, I spoke with some people from the Men’s Club of Forest Hills who were sad to see our lights off and flag down, and then other people started showing up,” Arcati said. “A new group of faces started coming to meetings.”

“They closed the bar, and that put an exclamation point on the reality that it was going to go away,” Prker added. ‘That’s when people were brought in and we saw an influx of members.”

For about 18 months, there were heated discussions and controversy around the topic of selling the building.

“Every time we came from a meeting, I’d tell my wife, ‘oh the building will be sold for sure,’” Arcati said. “And then after the next meeting I’d say ‘I don’t think the building will be sold.’ It just went back and forth.”

Complaints about previous leadership centered around a lack of administration, including new members either being refused or not sworn in.

“From an administration point, it was a very thin spread and this place takes people,” Parker said. “If you’re going to have activity, you need support.”

With Long and his supporters looking to sell, contention grew. Eventually, those in favor of keeping the building started nominating new people for officer roles.

“There are so many members, like Kevin Kennelly who has been a member for 50 years, and this is their house,” Parker said. “We have to take care of it.”

A lawsuit against Post #1424 was initiated by Pat Conley. Parker said that Conley created a path forward to save the building, rebuild membership and increase meeting attendance, which effectively resulted in the change in leadership.

“All this allowed for the revitalization of Continental Post #1424 to begin,” she said.

When the new leadership took over, they canceled the sale of the building and the lawsuit was dropped.

“The decision to sell was wrong for the betterment of the post and of its members,” said Joe Conley, a member and Pat’s brother. “We have a base here now and we’re going to continue to grow from there.”

Since June, the new leadership has been working hard on transparency and increasing membership. The group has already seen five new members and a couple of transfers.

Thanks to the hall being rented out for events, the post has some money in the bank, which has been used to make minor renovations with the help of volunteers.

“John from the Community House and Men’s Club of Forest Hills asked if we were staying open, and then asked what could they do to help,” Parker said. “The community is here.”

Ike Komae plans to host Gentleway Masters Judo Club classes three times a week at the space.

“I was a member here for 25 years,” Komae said. “When one of the members said they were closing the post, I rejoined and gave my vote to keep it open.”

The post is also looking to sponsor baseball teams, Boy Scouts, and youth groups, and willing to collaborate with other neighborhood organizations.

“We need to know what the community needs so that we can help,” Parker said.

Veterans from all the services are welcome at Post #1424.

“We have to be good purveyors of the history and bring it into the future for the next set,” Parker said.

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