Decision to sell Rescue’s community hall draws reaction

Published 7:05 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

RESCUE — Jeff Knutson has lived across the road from the Rescue Community Hall for 37 years, and for as long as he’s been there, it’s been used for a variety of events, ranging from meetings to wedding receptions.

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Recently, the owners of the building, the Rescue Community League, posted a letter to Rescue residents stating that the building will be sold and that the Rescue/Battery Park Ruritans are dissolving.

Knutson is concerned over what comes next — will it be a hectic business with a lot of traffic? {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Sheila Schaff was born and raised in Rescue, as was her mother and grandmother. When she heard the building was going to be sold, “I was floored,” she said, of the hall, which has been a hub for community, church and personal events for decades.

“It goes back for as long as I can remember,” said Schaff of events at the hall, many of which are included in family photo albums.

Beth Aberth, who was elected as a trustee for the building in September, said that the Rescue Community League was meeting this week and declined to comment further until after that occurred.

According to Community League meeting minutes dated Sept. 19, it was decided that a “town meeting” concerning the building’s fate was not necessary.

Schaff takes particular issue with that, stating that five people (the trustees) decided the fate of the community building without community input. Of the five trustees, three were elected only days before the decision to sell the building.

Why wasn’t the community consulted, as many could have donated their skills and time to the building’s preservation, Schaff said.

In its letter to residents, the League stated the income received on rentals was not enough to cover expenses, nor the repairs that are necessary. All rentals will cease at the Hall as of Oct. 31, according to League minutes.

“I don’t want to see the building destroyed. At the same time, if the building had to go away, it should remain as Rescue’s property. Put a park, a ball field, put something there,” said Schaff.

Knowlton said that while most activities at the hall have been “benign,” some have been noisy late into the night and he would just as soon see houses or condos go on the property.

According to the minutes, the League is seeking a real estate agent and plans to donate the proceeds from the sale to the Rescue waterworks.

As for the Ruritans, the club is dissolving due to a lack of membership, according to the letter to residents. 

The building was once a school and was transferred to private hands in 1940. It is valued at $199,900, according to Isle of Wight County assessment data.  {/mprestriction}