Roseville VFW hall closing its doors

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 19, 2014

 The Roseville VFW post is selling its hall on Gratiot Avenue, south of Frazho Road. Post Commander Tom Dubiel said a decline in fundraising dollars and rentals, coupled with an aging membership, has made it too difficult for the post to keep up the hall.

The Roseville VFW post is selling its hall on Gratiot Avenue, south of Frazho Road. Post Commander Tom Dubiel said a decline in fundraising dollars and rentals, coupled with an aging membership, has made it too difficult for the post to keep up the hall.

Photo by Kevin Bunch

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ROSEVILLE — The Roseville Veterans of Foreign Wars are closing the doors of their post on Gratiot after 70 years and seeking a new home.

Post Commander Tom Dubiel said the hall used to be utilized in the community a lot more through rentals and attendance at the thrice-weekly bingo fundraisers, but the bingo has fallen off due to increased competition, and hall rentals were down. Furthermore, the VFW was losing money on the bingo fundraisers from a lack of players.

Added to the fact that the group is aging, Dubiel said they simply could not manage the property anymore.

He said the number of members at the post is 185, down from 230 people last year, and only about a dozen people at a time show up to meetings. A lot of them go south for the winter or have retired and moved to warmer climates overall, but whatever the reason, the VFW just has not had the manpower on top of the usage issues at the hall.

“Our following is deteriorating, in terms of people volunteering,” Dubiel said. “We have a lot of World War II and Korean veterans who come to meetings, and they’re up there. Some are in their late 80s or 90s, so they’re just not capable of helping around the post.”

He said the post hopes to retain its independence and begin renting space elsewhere, but it is entirely possible that it will merge with a nearby VFW post, thus ending the Roseville Corp. Neil W. Reid VFW Post as its own entity after nearly 78 years.

The hall has been on the market since 2005, but Dubiel said it was not heavily advertised beyond appearing on the real estate agent’s website because they did not want to scare off the bingo-goers. Since no one had budged, in February they moved to a new agent, Jean VanOosterwyk with ReMax of Clinton Township.

“It was listed for $1 million, which was way too much for them, so when I took it on, we lowered it to $450,000,” VanOosterwyk said. “We’ve already had quite a few people showing interest, and a few show-ins that showed interest.”

She said the biggest snag is that, as a commercial property, people do not tend to move quickly to purchase it. Additionally, since it has not been rented heavily, the new owners would not have that potential source of revenue off the bat with existing appointments, either.

Since it is close to I-696 and can serve as a multipurpose building with a sizable yard, however, VanOosterwyk is confident it will sell at some point, although perhaps not as quickly as the VFW hopes.

“It’s just a matter of getting the timing together,” she said.

Dubiel said he wants to use the proceeds from the hall’s sale to set up an annuity to keep up the VFW’s public service efforts, such as providing flags to schools and presenting awards to public safety and teaching staff.

He said that if the Roseville post merges with another VFW, the proceeds from a sale would go to that other post, though they would also be paying the bills in the meantime. Currently, Roseville’s post is paying bills — something that Dubiel said they have had some trouble doing without the help of the fundraisers.

The cost, coupled with the age of the current active members, has caused the VFW to cut back on some of its activities, such as the color guard for the city Memorial Day parade, and holding a 21-gun salute at veterans’ funerals and memorials — though Dubiel said they still go out to honor fallen veterans.

Dubiel attributed the dearth of new members made up of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to them simply being too busy after getting back to the U.S. He said that when he returned from Vietnam, he took 14 years before joining the VFW, during which time he was retrained to use computers, bought a house and started a family. He simply did not have the time to join during that period, Dubiel said.

“These guys are coming back home, and they have bigger things on their mind rather than being involved in the VFW or American Legion,” Dubiel said. “Some posts have people from Iraq and Afghanistan who are active, but at our post, we just couldn’t draw.”

He did add that they have a few members from those wars on their membership rolls, but they are not active.

The VFW meets the second and fourth Monday each month at 7:30 p.m. and is still meeting at the VFW Hall at 25671 Gratiot Ave. Inquiries about the post can be made to Dubiel at (586) 438-5196 or to VanOosterwyk at (586) 792-8000.

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