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City offers $150,000 for VFW building

The Mitchell City Council will decide Monday if it wants to increase its $150,000 offer for the VFW building, pictured here, on Main Street. Vets prefer moving to sinking the cash into the old building, but they want more money. (Ross Dolan/The Daily Republic)

Mitchell's Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter wants to sell its Main Street building to the city of Mitchell and move to another location, but the vets hope the city will offer a higher price than the $150,000 currently on the table.

Mayor Ken Tracy said bids to repair the common wall between the VFW post and the former Longhorn Bar, which the city purchased prior to demolishing, all exceeded $150,000. That's the price the city offered the veterans recently to sell their building or fix their wall.

Demolition of the former Longhorn began May 14 but was halted two days later when it was discovered the building's shared wall with the VFW was unstable.

To date, the city has spent about $171,000 to remove the Longhorn and to address structural problems with the shared wall between the two buildings.

Tracy and City Council members Dan Allen and Phil Carlson -- members of a committee tasked with resolving the shared-wall situation -- met Tuesday to discuss the matter, but there was little they could do until the VFW made a decision, Tracy said.

On Thursday, Post Commander Pat Ziegler told Tracy that VFW members voted to sell the building and move to a new location. Ziegler declined to comment further on that membership meeting.

Tracy said he's sympathetic to the difficult choice facing the membership.

"They've thought it over, but there was concern that at $150,000 they wouldn't be able to find a new location or rebuild, so they're in a bit of a quandary," Tracy said. "They'd like to see if the City Council can improve its offer on Monday."

The better option for the city would be to give the VFW the cash and walk away, since the city has no use for the building, Tracy said.

There's also concern that, if the city acquires and demolishes the building, similar structural problems could be repeated. The building's roof is tied into the American Legion building next door, Tracy said.

"I believe an offer between $150,000 and $200,000 would not be unreasonable," Tracy said, "but I don't have a feeling about where the council is about offering more."