Belleville resident, U.S. Army Veteran, and Commander of the Belleville/Nutley Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22 Bill Steimel has written an open letter to the Essex Watch for the Mayor and Township Council out of deep concern for the property where the DAV Hall currently resides.
With the Franklin Manor age-restricted housing project on Mill Street being developed literally yards away from the DAV building, and some ominous language being directed at the Chapter regarding their lease on the property, Commander Steimel is appealing to the Township to pledge their genuine support for their local Veterans by (minimally) honoring their existing 99-year lease agreement with the membership of the DAV, and ensuring that the land will not be taken away from them.
Here is Commander Steimel’s letter:
The Belleville/Nutley Disabled American Veterans Building located at 612 Mill Street has a 99-year land lease with the Township of Belleville . This Building was built with funds from a New Jersey State Grant that Viet Nam Veteran and NJ State Senator Ronald Rice earmarked for the specific purpose of building a DAV Hall.
In a nutshell, Belleville Township owns the property and the Disabled American Veterans own the building. The DAV pays for all services and does all snow removal and maintenance on the property, and has had the parking lot paved with its own funds. On 2 separate occasions within the past 5 years the Township of Belleville has discussed changing our lease, and limiting our rentals to only certain Groups or Individuals.
If the lease were changed, we the DAV would no longer be able to pay our overhead. This would kill our organization. My Chapter membership feels that we are being harassed and wish to go to the media about this issue and I am contemplating going to the media myself. I am also asking my legislators to see if legislation can be written to legally give us the property outright. Politicians love to wrap themselves in the Flag and take photo ops with Veterans, but do little or nothing for their Veterans.
Belleville Township will hold elections on May 10th. I am asking that Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble, the Belleville Township Council, and Township Council Candidates go on record and support a resolution donating the property to the DAV.
We will see who truly supports Veterans this Memorial Day.
Chapter 22 Belleville/Nutley Disabled American Veterans
612 Mill Street
Belleville, NJ 07109