It feels like we have jumped right into summer! I hope you have been enjoying all of the warm weather and events that mark the change in season. For the 26th year, the Vermont City Marathon kicked summer off right, bringing thousands of runners, spectators, and volunteers to Burlington at the end of May. Jazz Fest, one of the great traditions that makes our City such a unique and wonderful place to live, takes place June 5-14. Come downtown and experience this family-friendly celebration of music, culture, and summer weather.
Burlington’s First Chief Innovation Officer
After an extensive search, I have appointed Beth Anderson as the City’s first ever Chief Innovation Officer, and Beth will start her work later this month. Beth, a Burlington resident with a background in both the private and non-profit sector, will lead the newly-created Innovation & Technology Department in the City and be responsible for managing the approximately $1 million the City spends annually on information technology (IT) operations, as well as coordinating data-driven innovation and using performance metrics to facilitate the City’s continuous improvement efforts. Beth has extensive experience in the areas of innovation, continuous improvement, and IT, as well as excellent communication and relationship-building skills, and an outstanding record of community service. With this appointment, Burlington joins the growing list of cities around the country that are focused on using data to make better informed policy decisions that improve the services we provide residents and save taxpayers money.
CCTA Downtown Transit Center Groundbreaking
One of my administration’s top priorities since the start has been to bring to resolution public works projects that Burlingtonians have been debating and awaiting for many years. This past month the Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCTA), in partnership with the City, broke ground on the long-awaited Downtown Transit Center, which will replace the inadequate facility at the corner of Church Street and Cherry Street. The new station will be built in the City’s right of way on St. Paul Street between Pearl Street and Cherry Street. The new facility – which will include features such heat-on-demand in the cold winter months for riders waiting on the platform, a sophisticated snow melt system, and an attractive glass canopy – will be a dramatic improvement for the more than one million CCTA passengers who pass through Burlington’s downtown station every year. The new station will help continue the growth in CCTA’s ridership, boost our efforts to revitalize Cherry Street, and serve as another reminder of the ability of Burlingtonians to come together and overcome major challenges.
Housing Action Plan
For over 30 years, the City of Burlington has identified housing affordability as one of its most significant issues. Over the past year the City has focused substantial effort on identifying and developing initiatives to make housing in Burlington more affordable by expanding on work that proved successful in prior years and proposing new ideas to address this enduring issue. These initiatives are compiled in the City’s draft Housing Action Plan (available on the Community and Economic Development Office’s homepage on the City’s website).
The Housing Action Plan itself is a framework document – different initiatives require separate action by the City Council – that provides an overview of how the City intends the housing affordability challenge on many fronts. The plan’s strategies include reforming regulatory barriers that have sharply limited Burlington’s ability to create housing for households at all income levels, additional investment in the City’s Housing Trust Fund, and an effort to reduce the number of students living in the historic neighborhoods around UVM. In addition, the Housing Action Plan proposes initiatives to tackle long-standing quality of life concerns, supports the Housing First approach as presented by the Continuum of Care, and identifies initiatives to help support an aging population in the future. I anticipate that the City Council will take action on the Housing Action Plan in June.
More Work on the Waterfront
After breaking ground last summer, the Bike Path has already been re-routed and widened through Waterfront Park and down to Perkins Pier. The budget that I will be submitting to the City Council in June also contains funding to continue these enhancements up through the Urban Reserve to North Beach over the next year. The Waterfront Access North project to improve the northern waterfront, extend Lake Street, build a new skate park, protect the lake from run-off, and remove unsightly overhead powerlines is also continuing and is on track for completion at the end of this calendar year.
As always, I invite you to join me and share your ideas and concerns about the City at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 am. To stay informed about City progress, visit www.Facebook.com/MiroBTV. I hope to see you soon.