Bethel cabins may remain in Burke Park

New life may be in store for the historical log cabins located in Bethel’s Burke Park.

A group seeking to preserve them at their current location has shown promising results in their search for volunteers and funding. Ron Shouse, a Tate Township resident, volunteered his time a month ago at a village council meeting, asking the village council to stop the sale of the two cabins to an out-of-state buyer and allow local history buffs to look into preserving the structures locally.

“I’ve talked to about 10 different foundations right now, and there are some who can fund it the way it is now, and some who would have to do changing, possibly to ownership,” said Shouse. “There is funding out there. We looked at a grant today with a deadline of Nov. 16. We’re looking at it to see if it fits into our plans.”

The hope is that the cabins can be repaired and made into a sort of miniature museum. In the past, the cabins have served as living history backdrops for various historical activities, but were closed when extensive damage from lack of maintenance was discovered.

Several logs in the structures are rotting away, and two non-historical porches added to the buildings are in danger of falling. Shouse and a group of volunteers have been organizing a revitalization plan of action for the past month.

“In my opinion, in 30 days we’ve done a lot of hard work,” Shouse said. “We have a really good committee set up. We feel confident we’ll do all right, and we appreciate your support.”

The council gave its approval of the progress, and discussed taking measures to protect the cabins until they could be restored. One step, to replace the locks in the two cabins, which have more keys than the village can keep track of.

“I don’t have a key, and there is a huge accountability issue,” said Bethel Administrator Michael Shiverski. “It seems like everyone has a key but the village. We may want to re-key the cabins so we know who has a key, because there is a lot of stuff in the cabins that, if it disappeared, we would have little chance of finding out who took it.”

Shouse agreed, saying that the structures themselves do contain a number of donated items that would prove sorely missed if stolen.

“We may have to answer to someone who donated something if it’s missing,” said Shouse. “How do you explain what happened to it? We don’t want to upset someone who donated something. We need to know what’s there, and you need to know what’s there.”

Shouse agreed to return with a full progress report in early December, and the village discussed potentially turning over ownership of the cabins to the historical society. Shouse said that the village may be disqualified from receiving a number of grants for the structures, while the historical society may be able to gain them. Also, he added, it would eliminate upkeep costs for the village.

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