Taftville VFW would close earlier if that would allow it to reopen after suspension

Norwich — If the Taftville VFW post is allowed to reopen, the post commander says he will close the bar earlier to avoid the problems that led to a 30-day suspension.

The Taftville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2212 at 36 Pratte Ave. closes at 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends, which is two hours later than other nearby bars.

“That gave other people a place to go and cap off, and that was turning out to be a lot of our problems,” said George Bousquet, the post commander.

Robert Froelick, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Connecticut, closed the post for 30 days on Jan. 30 because the police had been called there numerous times to deal with noise complaints and fights. Neighbors complained to both the police and VFW.

Members of the post met with state VFW officials Monday night in Jewett City to discuss the post’s future. Bousquet told Froelick he would close the post at the same time as other bars, 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends. Both sides said it was a productive meeting.

Froelick will decide whether to reopen the post, continue the suspension for up to a total of 90 days, or recommend that the national organization revoke the charter. He said Tuesday that changing the hours is “a good gesture” but he wants the post to submit a plan in writing for how to fix the problems.

Froelick said he has concerns about whether the post can follow the VFW’s rules and interact with the community harmoniously.

Bousquet said he will comply with whatever the state organization wants, to keep the post open.

“We’re vets, and it’s our home,” he said.

The money the post would lose by closing early, Bousquet said, is “minimal.” He said he also plans to turn down the jukebox so it cannot be heard from outside.

According to Norwich Police Department records, police have been called to the post 75 times in the past 10 years for reported disturbances, suspicious activity, fights in progress and other incidents. A handgun was displayed during a fight in the parking lot Jan. 17. No shots were fired, but three people were arrested.

Bousquet said he thought the post’s fate was “predetermined” and that it would close forever, but he changed his mind after meeting with the state officials.

“They are actually, honestly out to help us,” he said. “It went a lot better than I thought it would. I’m a lot more optimistic now.”

Froelick said he thinks the situation in Taftville “possibly could be rectified.” He said he may need to extend the suspension while he considers the post’s plan. The national organization has advised him on his options.

“It’s not going to be an easy decision,” Froelick said.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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