A leader of the Nassau County Legislature on Monday called for the county to aid veterans and fraternal groups struggling due to the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the organizations represented at a news conference were the Williston Park and Manhasset American Legions, Garden City Park VFW, Mineola Knights of Columbus, Irish American Society, New Hyde Park Elks Lodge and the Vietnam Veterans.
Representatives spoke on the difficulties their organizations face paying rent and property taxes on their venues due to a lack of income because the pandemic has forced cancellation of events. Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called for the county to provide these organizations with a relief fund.
“Nassau County must allocate COVID relief monies to veterans, fraternal and similar organizations which own buildings in our communities,” Nicolello said. “These organizations have not been able to hold events for over a year but still must pay tens of thousands of dollars in real property taxes.”
John Incremona, commander of VFW Post 5253 in Albertson, said his organization would welcome any financial aid the county could provide.
“Before COVID-19, we were making money and were able to afford the repairs needed for the building,” Incremona said. “Now, after nearly a year of no events, we have not made that money back.”
The county will receive more than $300 million to be used for COVID-19 relief as part of the federally passed American Rescue Act. The Legislature’s two-part plan for aid would be to reimburse organizations for lost revenue over the past year and then to use the on-going federal relief grants provided to the organizations until pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“Many of the organizations are faced with the stark reality that they may have to soon close their doors if help does not arrive,” Nicolello said. “The veterans and fraternal halls are part of the very fabric of our community, and we must do everything in our power to help them to remain open until they can get back to holding events.”
“We are running out of funds,” James Randle, commander of American Legion Post 144 in Williston Park, said. “We still have a problem keeping the post open. We need this help, and hopefully we can get it.”
According to the latest U.S. census data, more than 45,500 military veterans reside in Nassau County.