Selectmen discussed opening the skate park in Bethel earlier than the original re-opening date of June 1. .Many residents have wondered why the park has remained closed, despite foot traffic being allowed on the pathway. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

BETHEL — Selectmen unanimously decided to keep the town skate park closed until June 1 at their Tuesday meeting.

Discussion on the parks reopening date was sparked by many complaints from residents, asking why the park remained closed despite the pathway being open to foot and bike traffic.

Select Woman Lori Swain said she thought sticking to the original date of June 1 was the best route for the town to go.

Swain also spoke on the many comments made on Facebook.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication and just total disrespect out there,” Swain said. “June 1 is when we were scheduled to open and I think we should stick with that.”

Selectman Pete Southam wondered if the state had any input on the matter.

Town Manager Loretta Powers said she had not heard much from the state, but also mentioned that other towns have began to open their parks and that others never shut them down.

In other news, selectmen heard from multiple people on Tuesday about concerns regarding the Sunday River Brewing Company.

The main question asked to the board was the level of power they have over public health.

“I have great concern about a restaurant opening up against a governor’s mandate,” resident Sarah DeCato said. “I feel we’re not looking out for the best interest of our public health.”

DeCato said she previously worked as a public health nurse and also worked through the H1N1 pandemic.

“This pandemic is different than anything pandemic any of us have ever experienced in our lifetime,” resident Sarah DeCato said. “I hope none of us experience anything like it again.”

DeCato had questions on the role the board has in terms of public safety.

“We reached out to the Maine Municipal Association and asked them what are options as a town were and they told us that we didn’t have many options because the state had already exercised their options,” Southam said.

DeCato also wondered about the role of the towns health officer, Sarah Berry, who was recently approved for the position.

“We have no codes that they violated,” Powers said of the SRBC’s defiance of Gov. Janet Mill’s order.

“We did do a civil disobedience, absolutely,” Co-owner of SRBC Ron Savage said. “But when the health inspector and liquor enforcement showed up to my restaurant to issue us a fine, they had no masks. The liquor enforcement walked in four days in a row and had no mask. There was no social distancing and they shook my hand.”

“We’re not going to apologize for getting the economy started again and maybe saving thousands of business,” Savage added. “Somebody had to fight for the small businesses and we chose to fight for them.”

“It’s a huge public health risk for our community,” DeCato said.

On Tuesday, SRBC got their health and liquor licenses back, Savage said.

WGME also reported that the restaurant got its licenses back.

The restaurant cooked over 11,000 meals during a six-week period meals for families in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.



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