Mayor’s Office

City of Burlington, Vermont Land Trust Announce Progress on Land Conservation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 19, 2016
Contact:  Jennifer Kaulius, City of Burlington, 802.324.2505
                 Elise Annes, Vermont Land Trust, 802.522.9855
                 

City of Burlington, Vermont Land Trust Announce Progress on Land Conservation
Create New 12-Acre Public Park on Former Burlington College Land;
Important Step Toward Achieving City’s Long-Standing Goals for Site

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont Land Trust (VLT) President Gil Livingston today announced the creation of a new Burlington City park, following the February 18, 2016 purchase by the City and VLT of 12 acres of land for $2,000,000 from developer Burlington College Community Housing (BCCH) through its principal, Eric Farrell. After a collaborative, citizen-engaged planning process regarding the future of the former Burlington College land on North Avenue, this successful acquisition will include the protection of the property’s community gardens, woodland path, lakeside bluffs, and beach that have been enjoyed by residents for many years. The purchase was unanimously approved by the City Council earlier in February and funded using $500,000 of the City’s dedicated land conservation acquisition fund and leveraging other conservation financing secured by VLT.

The partners involved in the planning process, including VLT, Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), property owner BCCH, and the City of Burlington, spent many months listening to and addressing the community’s needs and interests regarding the future of this land and its possible uses. The results include a new public park connecting the Old North End to the Burlington Bike Path that will formalize public access to a forested trail and sandy beach, expanded space for community gardens, a new open play field, and the use of the existing stone house for the community. The new park, which provides a critical east-west connection for the City, will adjoin much-needed affordable and workforce housing.

“Yesterday’s closing was a major milestone in the achievement of the City’s long-standing goals to preserve open space and create new connections between the Old North End to the waterfront,” said Mayor Weinberger. “While considerable work remains to be done to finalize this progress and achieve the City’s other key goals for this important land, today is a day to celebrate progress and effective collaboration with our partners.”

“Access to the outdoors and the lake is so important to City residents, especially underserved residents in the Old North End.  The Vermont Land Trust is gratified to actively support the City’s effort to create a new urban park, especially in the context of also helping fill the need for affordable, workforce, and market rate housing,” said Gil Livingston, President of the Vermont Land Trust.

The creation of the park and preservation of open space is tied to meeting the City’s other goals for this important site, including development that supports new neighborhood uses and enhances revitalization of the Old North End and North Avenue and the creation of a range of housing types for a range of income levels. These goals were initially established by the City after a report in 2001 commissioned by then-Mayor Peter Clavelle, and were reaffirmed by Mayor Weinberger in 2014.  The new park will not be permanently protected from reverting to private ownership until the site has gone through anticipated rezoning.

“Publicly owned open space is critical to the social, economic, and environmental health of the City,” said Jesse Bridges, Director of Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. “Building from conservation priorities of generations before us we are proud to have played a role in saving another key piece of Burlington’s waterfront and secure it as a publicly accessible park for all to enjoy.  We will continue to improve access to our treasured waterfront, expand community garden opportunities and enhance native natural areas through this acquisition.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/19/2016
City Department: 
Mayor's Office