By Kristin Bednarski
Bethel Village Council member Donna Gunn announced during the March 14 council meeting that the village would soon remove the log cabins from Burke Park.
“We’re going to catch some flak on this I’m sure,” Gunn said. “It just can’t continue.”
Gunn, council member and member of the parks committee, talked about the decision during the meeting.
“I don’t think any of us want to see it,” Gunn said about removing the cabins. “We can’t take on the cost of a private group that can no longer take care of it.”
Gunn said the Burke Park Log Cabin Committee, a private organization made up of several individuals, was raising money to renovate the cabins, but after several years had not raised enough money.
Meanwhile, she said the cabins continued to sit in the park in poor condition.
“The group started raising funds, but not nearly enough to bring the cabins up to acceptable condition,” Gunn said. “The parks committee recommended they be dismantled.”
Ron Shouse, president of the Burke Park Log Cabin Committee, said he is disappointed that the cabins will be taken down. He said the news came as somewhat of a shock to him and other members.
“For the individuals and village residents, and the people who have a lot of memories with those cabins, it’s a sad day to see them go,” Shouse said.
Shouse said the committee’s goal was to maintain and restore the cabins so they could be used by local students and residents.
He said the cabins were gifted to the village as a bicentennial celebration project in 1976 and were used for educational purposes.
Over the years, however, the cabins aged and began to need extensive maintenance.
Shouse said the log cabin committee began to raise funds to restore the cabins. He said The Founders Day Celebration in the village was one of their main fund-raisers.
Shouse said The Founders Day celebration was cancelled in 2010 and again in 2011 due to lack of funding and the log cabin committee struggled to raise money to restore the cabins.
At the time, he said their goal was to raise $10,000 and begin looking for matching grants that could be put toward the project.
Shouse said since the cabins are on village property the village would have to apply for the grants.
“We’ve got a little over $8,000 that we raised for matching grants we were hoping the village would take the lead on,” Shouse said.
Shouse said the village had financial struggles at the time, but after the village came out of fiscal emergency, he said he was hoping the committee could sit down with council members and work out a plan for how to accomplish the renovations.
He said he contacted Mayor Alan Ausman to set up a meeting with the committee.
“I never heard anything from him,” Shouse said.
He said last week he heard the news that the cabins would be coming down.
“It kind of stung me,” Shouse said. “We are disappointed but not upset about it. It could have been a wonderful arrangement to put those back in place for the citizens. It’s just not going to happen.”
Shouse said the committee will have to meet to discuss what to do with the funds that have already been raised.
“I am sure we will look at the different avenues locally,” Shouse said.
Crews with the village of Bethel began taking down the cabins March 19.