01.28.08

Leahy Secures Funding To Protect And Restore Bethel Town Hall

(MONDAY, Jan. 28) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has secured more than $300,000 in the newly enacted federal budget passed by Congress and signed by the President that will help protect and restore the historic Bethel Town Hall.  The federal funding will come in the form of a Save America’s Treasures grant and will likely be used to complete foundation repairs and masonry work.

Leahy said, “The Bethel Town Hall embodies the very identity of the close-knit community it serves.  For more than a century the Town Hall has been the epicenter of community activity – from dances and concerts to the home of the fire department and Bethel’s first library.  Restoring the Town Hall to its rightful place as a well-preserved and working piece of New England’s history is vital in preserving more than just the building, but also the culture and identity of an American community.  The Town Hall is a living reference point and anchor for Bethel’s past and Bethel’s future.  Making it once again a vital part of town life is more than a capital investment in a building.  It’s an investment in Bethel’s legacy.”

“We are honored by Senator Leahy's recognition of our beautiful Bethel Town Hall, and we are grateful for his efforts on our behalf,” said Amy Bergamo, the chairperson of the Bethel Town Hall Financial Committee.  “The Town Hall represents the history and the future of Bethel, and this appropriation will go a long way in restoring the building as the vital town center that it once was.”

 

The Bethel Town Hall was built in 1892 and has served a variety of purposes for the community.  It is the centerpiece of Bethel’s historic downtown.  One of Vermont architect George Gurnsey’s classic New England buildings, the Town Hall has been used as library, fire station, dance hall and town office complex.  Currently vacant, the facility needs restoration and accessibility improvements to allow increased community use.  Under direction from the Bethel Select Board, the Bethel Town Hall Financial Committee has undertaken an ambitious fundraising campaign that has collected more than $100,000 in private contributions.  According to Bergamo, the community will need nearly $1 million to complete all of the desired restorations.

 

Leahy said the town’s demonstrated commitment, in both private donations and support of direct appropriations from the town, helped him secure the Save America’s Treasures grant.  Leahy was especially impressed with last year’s pledge by Charlene Bostrom during Bethel’s Town Meeting to close the funding gap necessary to repair the Town Hall’s roof. 

 

Leahy secured the funding in the recently enacted annual budget bill for the National Park Service and other agencies.  The Bethel grant was not in President Bush’s budget request to Congress, so Leahy included the Bethel project funds as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and of its Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing the annual budget bill for the Department of the Interior (including the National Park Service), EPA and other agencies.

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