BETHEL — Tuesday evening, selectmen agreed to table discussion on the use of the vacant Bethel owned Ethel Bisbee School building for the non-profit business District Exchange. The conversation came into play when Bethel Food Pantry Director Dave Bean said the District Exchange no longer has a home.

“[We’ve] never come to the town of Bethel for anything … we only want to continue work we’re doing,” Bean said earnestly in the meeting.

The District Exchange, which works in conjunction with Bethel Food Pantry, provides used clothing for those in need. It is funded through clothing sales and has 12 volunteers.

Bean explained it cost the Bethel Food Pantry $15,000 a year to home at the Nazarene Church. They did not have the funds to double that to make room for the District Exchange.

Bean proposed to have the District Exchange move into the vacant EBS building, which was once an elementary school, and is now rotting away.

The cost of remodeling Ethel Bisbee would be between $800,000-$900,000 Town Manager Loretta Powers said.


Resident Gabe Perkins suggested helping the town find the money for the District Exchange. However, Bean counteracted, saying, “…wouldn’t say donate…[we want too] engage the community.”

He further explained getting grant money wouldn’t necessarily be difficult. What he needs is the community to say yes in a provisional way.

At this point, resident Beth Weisberger stepped in, stating she felt uncomfortable with this process. She clarified something like this needs to go to a town meeting, at which Bean clarified the selectman provide transparency on how to deal with public facilities.

This led to a conversation on multiple places where the District Exchange could be placed. As each idea popped up, another town member or select person would bring up other non-profits or businesses that would benefit from the empty space as well. Ideas were using EBS for voting and the food pantry, and the ambulance department had also expressed interest in it as well.

In the end, selectmen agreed more research needed to be done, and that selectmen also need to visit the EBS building.


In other news, Bethel is going to be building four pathway exercise stations. They will be stationed along the Davis Park pathway and will include pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and balance beams. The stations will be built by Public Works. Director Scott Sumner was present, stating he will he installing the signs provided.

The meeting adjourned after hearty laughs, when Select Woman Lori Swain asked who would be taking over her role on the ordinance review committee, then realized her term expired in December and not July.

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