SUISUN CITY — Within the month, Suisun City and Fairfield veterans groups will get the hall they have long wanted.
“It is going to be very good for the veterans,” Solano County Associate Architect James Bezek said. “There are some design changes that will really enhance the building.”
The seven veterans organizations that use the building are getting more than a renovation, which Navy veteran and city councilman Mike Segala of American Legion Post 182 better described as “a reconstruction,” which cost $2.6 million in planning and construction.
That includes the creation of a larger main hall, Americans with Disabilities Act access in both front and back, a new elevator, a much better heating and air conditioning system, a dedicated veterans group meeting area upstairs, a new veterans lounge, more storage space on both floors and a new certified commercial kitchen.
A lot of these changes are thanks to the close work between the veterans organizations and the county over what changes and improvements needed to be done and how they were going to be put in.
“It has been a really good team there,” Bezek said. “The county is always happy to help out the vets.”
Veterans groups representatives such as Mike Satterfield of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2333 and Richard Jones of Purple Heart Chapter 95 said they are pleased with the results of construction that has been going on since June 2011.
“We are going to enjoy this,” Satterfield said of the 90-year-old Main Street building’s changes.
“This is outstanding,” Jones said.
Segala pointed out that the groups were able to use as many of the community’s local tradespeople as possible in the project.
It is an especially good feeling given that Solano County and the veterans had to deal with an extensive list of problems, local veterans said – from dry rot and termites to shifting over time of the building’s walls.
One of the big improvements is the certified commercial kitchen with the pass-through serving area that the hall lacked. Prior to the reconstruction, the lack of a decent kitchen kept the veterans from renting the hall for functions and fundraisers that needed a cooking space.
Construction crews removed the hall’s back wall and added nine more feet to the back of the building that allows the hall to have a larger first-floor bathroom and storage area. In the parking lot behind, the number of handicapped parking spots has expanded from two to six.
Upstairs, each veterans group will now have their own storage area next to the renovated room that will be a permanent meeting place for the veterans groups.
“This will be set up for veterans to have their meetings,” Segala said.
Completely new is the veterans lounge on the second floor facing Main Street, “which will give veterans a place to gather,” Segala said. It was something veterans halls in other communities had, but Suisun City’s facility lacked. There will be space for computers and there will be Wi-Fi availability throughout the building.
There is still talk about establishing a veterans memorial public artwork across the street, but that has not been a priority.
The veterans groups have already gotten five groups interested in renting the hall in March. They expect more interest once work is completed. The veterans groups plan to move back into their home in mid-February. A ribbon-cutting is tentatively slated for Feb. 22, Segala said.
The veterans spent a moment to thank Canova Moving and Storage for donating the storage space the veterans needed for their possessions while the work on the hall was being done.
Once open, the veterans plan to keep a tight leash on who rents the hall. All rental applications will be sent through the Suisun City Police Department for approval.
This is the latest in a series of projects the county has done to improve and fix up the county’s different veterans halls. The veterans halls in Dixon and Benicia have also recently been finished. A county project manager is working on ADA upgrades to the veterans halls in Rio Vista, Vacaville and Vallejo.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.