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Challis Mayor Mike Barrett and American Legion Commander Tom Pettit renewed the $1 a year lease for the Legion Hall at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting. Pettit discussed proposed improvements to the hall, including upgrading the parking lot and expanding the building.

Challis American Legion members renewed a lease for a vacant lot next to Legion Hall with Challis city officials earlier this month and discussed improvements they would like to make to the building in coming decades.

Legion Commander Tom Pettit said Legion members want to remove a section of the curb in front of the hall and build a driveway. The driveway would lead behind the hall to a new parking lot covered with a layer of shale.

Mayor Mike Barrett and City Council members agreed the curb and parking lot improvements could be done in short order. Barrett estimated the cost to hire a private company to remove the curb would be less than $2,000, but city employees could do it for a fraction of that cost. Pettit and Barrett agreed the best time to begin construction would be next summer.

"We can afford to level out the parking lot and put in shale now, but we can wait till the weather is more permitting," said Pettit in a separate interview. 

Pettit said the improvements are necessary because the majority of people who visit the hall are elderly and have mobility issues. He said having a nicer parking lot with a driveway on Main would give the elderly ease of access to the hall when they come to vote or attend a function.

"There's something going on all the time at the hall," said Pettit. "Our hope is to allow more people to use it without having to jump the curb to park."

The parking issues fall in line with the Legion's long-term goal to expand the building. Pettit said Legion members want to take out the west wall and extend the building another 20 or 30 feet. That would allow the bar to be relocated and the kitchen to be remodeled.

Increased attendance at events is the primary reason Legionnaires want to alter the building's interior, he said. 

Pettit said it is unlikely he will see the expansion in his lifetime, but said he will continue to work on it "because this is something that needs to be done."