Mequon Legion post reopens in new building

Mequon — After nearly a year without a building, the Howard J. Schroeder American Legion Post 457 has finally found a new home. 

The new legion post is located at 6006 W. Mequon Road, on the far west end of the future Mequon Town Center development. 

The Mequon Town Center development required a reorganization of its 3-acre site on the northwest corner of Mequon and Cedarburg roads. At the request of Town Center developers Wired Property and Shaffer Development, the legion agreed to demolish its former headquarters, an old schoolhouse, and move into a repurposed Mobil gas station that was originally located at the northwest corner of Mequon and Cedarburg Roads. 

The Mobil state was moved about 200 feet west of its former location, and was completely gutted and overhauled on the inside. About 700 square feet of space was added on the side nearest Mequon Road, bringing the overall building size to roughly 3,000 square feet. 

Construction was recently completed on the legion's new home — which doesn't look anything like a gas station. Post 457 Commander Bill Prahl said he is happy with the final product, and is happy to have a new building. The legion has been without a building since its old schoolhouse location was demolished in December 2013. 

"We are so thrilled with the new building," Prahl said. "It's going to give us a wonderful home, and it will be a community asset that we can all be proud of." 

The new legion post was unveiled on Nov. 15 during a grand opening ceremony attended by about 100 people, including Sen. Alberta Darling, Mequon Common Council President Dale Mayr, Thiensville Village President Van Mobley and Wisconsin American Legion Commander Bob Shappell. 

Prahl said the new legion post is a major improvement over its old facility, which was not handicap-accessible. The modern building includes a large meeting hall, bar, kitchen, office and bathrooms. The building can be rented out for special functions. 

The plan to relocate the gas station also included a plan to relocate an old decommissioned Army tank that had been parked outside the old Legion post since 1995. Due to some amendments to the Town Center site plan, that Army tank has been pushed further west into the Opitz Cemetery. 

Two major changes in the site plan made it impossible for the tank to remain on the Town Center site. First, the legion post was moved south to achieve the required parking density. Secondly, the legion post was pushed further west by a turnout lane that was added on the east side of the building. 

"The sum of these changes resulted in a design which could not be avoided, and would have had the tank within 5 feet of the new Post, less than 10 feet from the sidewalk, with the gun barrel overhanging the walkway," Legion member Elmer C. Renzlow wrote in a letter to the Protection and Welfare Committee in June. "The height of the tank would have also obstructed the view from inside the Post to the southwest in the area most used by members and guests." 

Legion members advocated for the tank to remain in Mequon, because the Legion would have had to pay any relocation expenses. The tank is property of the Army, and if the Legion were to petition the Army for its removal, the tank could be reassigned anywhere within the country. The local Legion post would have to pay for the relocation. 

Mequon Interim City Administrator Jesse Thyse said the tank is located in a section of the cemetery that has been always reserved as open space. Opitz Cemetery is not a military cemetery, but 27 local veterans are buried there.

Read the original post/article by Jeff Rumage here