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VFW says post is not for sale

(ran Beach edition)

The VFW post is not for sale, officials told the City Commission on Tuesday, complaining that rumors of the post's closing had adversely affected their membership.

The issue came up when the commission reactivated a committee of businesses and residents in the John's Pass Village area. The ad hoc committee was asked to study future phases of the redevelopment of the tourist area.

The city is nearing completion of first-phase engineering plans for redesigning and upgrading the shopping area's streets, utilities and landscaping. Included in one of the phases of the John's Pass Village redevelopment plan is the purchase of the VFW property at 12900 Gulf Blvd. The VFW building would be leveled to make room for additional parking.

Mayor Tom De Cesare called the VFW post the "most salient" issue. "The ad hoc committee should address that," he said.

"Right now, the VFW is not for sale," said representative Pete Burkett. "Just talking about this has hurt us a lot. Members have left and many of our renters have not come back."

Burkett did say the VFW would consider offering the city "air rights" to build a parking garage above their building.

In other action, the commission agreed to consider leasing the Mango Bay building, also in John's Pass Village, for another five years, with a five-year renewal option. The proposed lease agreement would increase the city's rental revenues by $500 a month. Mosha Asyag's $6,500-a-month lease expires at the end of the month, but city officials said they would extend it on a monthly basis until the new lease agreement can be signed.

The commission also said it would consider allowing the Gulf Beaches of Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce to sublease space at 501 150th Ave. The chamber constructed the building on city-owned land some 20 years ago and leases the property from the city for $1 a year. The chamber recently moved its administrative staff to its office in St. Pete Beach and plans to keep the Madeira Beach office open as a visitors center.