Message from Mayor Miro Weinberger
Right now, the long, high-ceiling, basement of Memorial Auditorium is bristling with energy and creativity. Light is streaming in through large historic windows and illuminating freshly-painted, bright columns. Artists and entrepreneurs are moving into small, low work areas in the center of the long room. Around the edges of the room the shared 3D printer, laser cutter, kitchen, and new multi-media classroom are humming.
Generator – Burlington’s first Maker’s space – is open. Generator is a combination of artist studios, classrooms, and business incubator spaces that creates a community of collaboration between artists, engineers, artisans, and entrepreneurs and builds from a model that has proven successful in other communities in fostering innovation, the creative arts, business development, and job creation. I strongly encourage people to visit this impressive new space at 250 Main Street. Congratulations to the new board of Generator, to Executive Director Christy Mitchell, and to Burlington City Arts, CEDO, and the Parks and Recreation Department for this successful launch just months after the concept was first conceived.
Generator is an early success of the new BTV Ignite initiative launched last fall to accelerate Burlington’s progress towards becoming a city where innovation and creativity flourish. This acceleration is working – we are willing ourselves towards this vision of economic and cultural opportunity for all just as in recent decades we have self-consciously rejuvenated our waterfront and downtown, created successful, economically-integrated magnet schools, and brought agriculture into the Intervale. Time and again Burlington has shown that we can create the future we want – it is exciting to see this process happening again.
Our capacity to pursue important new initiatives is growing as we continue to work our way through the financial issues that have held us back for years. The settlement agreement with Citibank announced in early February created a path toward eliminating the burden of Burlington Telecom (BT) litigation, but it required the City to achieve significant additional milestones to complete the agreement.
The $6 million BT bridge financing that we secured and announced at the end of March represents perhaps the largest and previously uncertain milestone along that path. The financing does two critical things: 1) it provides the City with sufficient resources to complete the $10.5 Settlement Agreement, and 2) it gives the City the ability to start its work towards the final milestone by filing for regulatory approval of the settlement agreement from the Public Service Board (which we did on March 28).
I am pleased that, after an extensive search, the best terms for this financing were offered to the City by a local businessperson – Trey Pecor – working in partnership with the Vermont-based Merchants Bank. The Pecor/Merchants proposal was the best proposal for the City financially, and gave the City the most flexibility in determining the future of BT. As we continue to work towards resolving our BT challenges, I welcome the opportunity to work with a local partner who has decades of personal and family commitment to Burlington. The full details of the agreement, along with a comparison with another competitive proposal considered by the City Council and my Administration, are available on the Press Release tab of the Mayor’s Office page on the City website.
Our efforts to work through other key challenges – reclaiming the waterfront from its industrial past, sustaining municipal services, securing affordable renewable energy and improving public safety – were all given a major boost on Town Meeting Day when seven ballot initiatives passed with strong majorities. Thank you for your support – we will be working hard to make good on this confidence in the months ahead.
I also want to congratulate the three new City Councilors – Selene Colburn, Bianka LeGrand, and Kurt Wright – and six new School Board Commissioners – Brian Cina, Kyle Dodson, Charlie Giannoni, David Kirk, Stephanie Seguino, and Scot Shumski – who braved one of the coldest Town Meeting Days and winters in memory to earn their new positions. Thank you for stepping forward to offer Burlington your energy and perspectives at a challenging and exciting time.
These new Councilors will be sworn in and I will give my third State of the City Address at City Hall on April 7 at 7:00pm. Please join us for this annual tradition.
Find updates and connect with the Mayor's Office at www.Facebook.com/MiroBTV