The Lone Sailor Navy Memorial on the waterfront just south of ECHO is one of the most beautiful and – because it is hard to see from the bike path – least visited spots on our stunning waterfront (this should change when the extended boardwalk approved by the voters last spring is built). On the morning of September 18, however, the small peninsula park was filled with dozens of Navy veterans (many of them wearing blue baseball caps embroidered with the name of the ship on which they served), family members, uniformed active-duty Navy sailors, a color guard assembled by the Vermont Air National Guard representing all the services, Governor Peter Shumlin, and the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, who announced that for the first time in over 120 years he was naming a ship the USS Vermont. It was moving to look out over the crowd and see so many Vermonters who have served our country from World War II to the present gathered in one place.
Improving North Avenue for everyone
I wrote about the North Avenue Corridor Study just a couple months ago, but am writing again because I know that as this transportation plan progresses to the City Council this month, it is continuing to generate both excitement and concern, and because my thoughts on the initiative have continued to evolve.
After speaking with many New North Enders at the Bagel Café and elsewhere about the topic in recent months, my sense is that some of the concern about the plan comes from the people viewing the initiative as one that pits cars against bicyclists.
I don’t see it that way. I believe we have an opportunity to make changes in the roadway that will improve North Avenue for everyone.
From my perspective, North Avenue today has numerous problems. The road is the site of an unusually high number of automobile accidents, and those accidents are unusually expensive because they generally occur at relatively high speed. We have a large and growing number of seniors living near the Avenue, and many of them have considerable difficulty crossing the road on foot. There are three schools on or near North Avenue, and the road makes biking or walking to school impossible for many of these students. We have a large and growing number of New North End residents who want to bike on the Avenue, and currently when they do so, the experience is uncomfortable for them and for the passing drivers.
The plan coming to the City Council will allow us to make progress – or in some cases, experiment with changes that we hope will make progress – on all of these challenges. This is an exciting time for our country’s streets – in recent years many cities have successfully redesigned their roads to be safer and more appealing. Often, these retrofits have led to increased property values for nearby owners and new customers for nearby businesses.
This plan isn’t about cars versus bikes, or even just about transportation – it’s about a long-term effort to make the New North End and part of the Old North End even better places to live, work, and visit.
100% of our power from renewable generation
Last month, after decades of work and commitment, the City passed a significant milestone: with the completion of the voter-approved purchase of the Winooski One Hydroelectric facility, the Burlington Electric Department is now one of the country’s few utilities to source 100% of its power from renewable generation.
Making this rare achievement all the more remarkable, Burlington has accomplished this milestone while keeping the rates it charges customers low and stable. In fact, the strategy of locking in renewable energy sources for the long-term was cited by Moody’s as a reason for the ratings agency’s recent upgrade of BED’s credit outlook from stable to positive.
At the heart of BED’s successful renewable sourcing strategy has been the resale of the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) associated with its renewable energy. This resale means that BED does not claim the power it sells its customers is “renewable,” and this has been criticized by some for not going far enough toward environmentally sound energy policy. Over time BED does intend to move away from the REC sales and has in place a process for its Commission to review the REC sale strategy annually.
In the meantime, however, BED’s leadership sourcing renewable energy has resulted in the construction of Vermont wind facilities that otherwise would not have been built, increasing the region’s overall supply of renewable energy. Further, as a result of decades of investing in local renewable power sources, Burlington’s electricity is no longer subject to the instability of foreign oil and gas markets.
Mayor’s Book Group discussion: evening of November 12
On November 12 we will have the first meeting of the Mayor’s Book Group, where we will discuss An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Washington Post writer Todd Purdum’s history of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The book is great and a quick read – it’s not too late to start it. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details about the event, a free copy of the book provided by the UVM Humanities Center, and notices about future books that will engage other issues of importance to our community.
Busy fall ahead
Throughout the fall the City Council and my Administration will be working on major issues. I plan to visit all of the NPAs in October and November to discuss the future of Burlington Telecom, the findings of the Retirement Committee that has been meeting since January and is wrapping up its work, what to expect regarding the Champlain Parkway now that the City has an Act 250 permit, and more.
As always, I invite you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 am and at our other frequent community events. To get information about these events and other City news, please visit www.Facebook.com/MiroBTV. I hope to see you soon.