10/1/16: The small town of Bethel came alive this weekend with a revitalization project that will hopefully have long lasting effects. Empty storefronts along Bethel's Main Street were transformed into pop-up shops selling local art, a temporary bike lane sprouted up along the main drag, a taco stand served up hot grub and an empty parking lot became a beer garden with live music. And most importantly, there were people gathered downtown to enjoy all of these improvements.
Once a bustling mill town, Bethel faces the challenges of many small Vermont towns with empty storefronts that fail to draw crowds and inspire community. Five years after Tropical Storm Irene hit the town hard, the residents have recovered and are banding together to imagine Bethel's future.
This weekend event was organized by the Bethel Revitalization Initiative, Team Better Block and AARP Vermont. This is the first Better Block project in Vermont and the long-term goal is to continue to brainstorm ways to revitalize a downtown that is ripe for change.