The empty lot where the Ethel Bisbee School once stood. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — The Ethel Bisbee School (EBS) ad-hoc committee is discussing what to do with the former school lot on Philbrook Street near Bethel Village.

Chair Bridget Remington said the group is information gathering, culling down options, and evaluating criteria that they will apply to all the options. The rubric they use will measure the different aspects of each option.

Their newsletter says, “such uses may include municipal use, sale, or lease of all or a portion of the land.”

“Right now we are heavy, heavy, heavy into the information gathering. Identifying community needs assessments that have already been done.

Besides Remington, the EBS committee members include Vice Chair Katie Getchell, Travis Brooks, Tom Zicarelli, Faye Christoforo, Charlie Raymond, Lee Hughes, Sarah DeCato, and Beth Allen.

Select Board Chair Meryl Kelly and Jim Bennett are non-voting members. Bennett was chair of the now defunct, circa 2017, EBS committee.

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“We want input from people and we want to share our progress with people,” said Remington who asks that residents  sign up for the newsletter with it’s simple two question survey, what would they like to see in the space? and what do they not want to see in the space?

“There will be more of those,” she said of the community queries.

The group is compiling opinions from the survey and from Facebook comments, too.

A few years ago The Heart and Sole group and a few spin-off groups did comprehensive community assessments including interviews. The information they collected is being evaluated, also, said Remington.

A community center (not defined) and a clothing district/food bank were two ideas that came from that research. The clothing district/food bank is coming to fruition at a new site on Walker’s Mills Road.

“A lot of people have been chiming in saying they would like to see some kind of community center,” she said. Because of that, they are planning to meet with directors of other community centers in neighboring towns.

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They will eventually look at private/public partnership opportunities, too.

Other considerations that townspeople might want to weigh in on, said Remington are: cost (initial and ongoing) and the proximity of neighbors to the building.

The one-year appointed committee will eventually make recommendations to the town, using the rubric Kelly instructed them on.

Asked how many community groups have approached them, Remington said, “None. If somebody already had a plan and an idea that would make it a lot easier to evaluate. Because currently we’re looking at these ideas in a vacuum,” she said.

The EBS Ad-hoc meetings are open to the public and are on the first and third Tuesday of every month. They typically meet at the Bethel Library.

The link to the questions and to receive the newsletter is: http://tiny.cc/EthelBisbeeLot


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