As a new year comes to North Attleborough, changes are underway to refurbish the location of Newell-Blais VFW Post 443.
The VFW post received a minor site overhaul on Jan. 4 to create a more welcoming environment for families and individuals. Employees from North Eastern Tree Service Inc. of Cranston, Rhode Island, arrived at Jefferson Street that morning and cut down two 100-foot trees that had been on site for years. The North Attleborough Electric Department also removed a guide wire in one of the trees and replaced it with a new pole.
VFW Senior Vice Commander Craig Chapman said removing the trees provides a better view of Falls Pond for those outside the building. He said he envisioned a firepit and chairs on site for veterans and non-veterans to enjoy summer evenings while looking out at the pond. Chapman said additional cleanup projects would happen throughout the year, depending on donations the VFW receives from supporters and local businesses.
“Today was the first start for a year-plus long project for bringing the ground and the building up to rejuvenation,” Chapman said. “We can open up the space for parking and for future projects.”
Built in 1957, the VFW had been a hotspot for veterans, families and individuals to spend the day, whether it be having a picnic by Falls Pond or holding fishing events for children. Veterans Agent Stephen Travers remembers those years fondly, but said the aging building and debris-filled parking lot have created an environment that is not welcoming for people anymore. Travers said the VFW is still open to the public and used for weekend events, but clearing the trees and bushes in the area would bring even more people to the building for old and new events, such as fishing derbies and wedding ceremonies.
“I remember from my personal experience that it was really good.,” Travers said. “We still stay busy renting on the weekends, but we want to brighten the place and make it a little more modern.”
According to Travers, the tree removal services cost $10,000.The VFW does not have an exact cost for repairs and cleanup services for the entire site and is awaiting an audit from the North Attleborough Electric Company to determine the costs for electrical services. Travers said the VFW is low on funds and any help from businesses and individuals would help continue the clean-up projects. He said the team is also looking for local plumbing and installation services to help refurbish the building itself.
“It all depends on how generous people are,” Travers said. “We are starting from a place with difficulty. We look for generosity, and we want to see the place restored to the family-friendly place it once was.”