The council committed to working with local military veterans on a project that would allow them to use the building at 725 Elkins Drive for meetings, counseling and general leisure. Veterans from American Legion Post 15, VFW Post 5015 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004 would manage the building, which formerly housed the Tennessee Department of Safety driver’s license station.
The council has delayed the move in for months due to the building’s condition. Jeff Baines, Lebanon public works director, said the city would conduct an electrical and mold inspection on the building in the next few days.
Councilor Rob Cesternino led the deferral of the veterans’ project during Tuesday’s council meeting after he received feedback from residents near Hobbs Field, which is about 300 yards from the potential veterans building.
“I’ve gotten some pushback from people in the Hobbs Park area,” Cesternino said. “Their response is when we’re looking at giving this to veterans, what are we going to do for the children around Hobbs Field who do not have anything?”
Cesternino said the city’s commitment to the future west side park at Hamilton Springs and Don Fox Community Park upgrades, and said he would create a task force of residents near Hobbs Field and veterans in an effort to create a plan that would suit all interests.
“Hobbs area is an area that has pretty much been neglected in my time in the city, and I think we should give that some attention,” Cesternino said.
Councilor Rick Bell said he agreed with Cesternino, but did not want to stray away from their commitment to veterans.
“That has been neglected. It used to be a nice recreational area, and it needs to go back that way. I agree we need to work and make that happen, because I feel it’s an area that really needs it,” Bell said. “I think at some point we need to make a decision for the veterans and not push it off too far.”