Mayor Miro Weinberger, City and Community Officials, Old North Enders Celebrate Grand Re-Opening of Reinvented Roosevelt Park


June 25, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
Mayor Miro Weinberger, City and Community Officials, Old North Enders Celebrate Grand Re-Opening of Reinvented Roosevelt Park 
Penny for Parks Program Exceeds Goal with 61 Projects Complete in Two Years

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today joined together with City and community leaders and residents of the Old North End to celebrate the grand re-opening of the recently-completed and reinvented Roosevelt Park.  The ambitious and successful effort to rebuild much of Roosevelt Park is one of 61 Penny for Parks projects that have been completed as part of the Mayor’s plan to make significant progress on important community parks projects.  To date, the City has exceeded its goal, having completed 61 projects in two years.

“This project is a great example of the tremendous good that can come from public – private partnerships,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “Roosevelt Park is so important to the fabric of the Old North End, serving as a meeting ground for this neighborhood’s diverse community.  I look forward to a renewed and enhanced relationship between this great park and this vibrant neighborhood.  Today’s event also represents the culmination of two years of focus and hard work by our Parks and Recreation staff to make good on the parks improvements Burlingtonians demanded in 2008 when they voted by a nearly 2 to 1 margin to create Penny for Parks.”

The overhaul of Roosevelt Park, led and managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, included a remodeling and transformation of the underutilized pavilion into a teen academic center, a complete overhaul of two tennis courts, and two basketball courts.  Future plans for Roosevelt Park include a full mural wrap of and new landscaping around the teen academic center, as well as paved paths for accessibility throughout the park. 

The new teen center will be programmed and managed by the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington.  The partnership originated last winter when Mary Alice McKenzie, Boys & Girls Club Executive Director, pitched the idea to Jesse Bridges, Parks and Recreation Director, and resulted in a memorandum of understanding to solidify the arrangement. 

“The Boys & Girls Club of Burlington is grateful to Mayor Weinberger and Director Bridges for pulling this project together and doing the right thing for the children,” stated McKenzie.  “We are forever thankful to Bobby Miller, Billy Bissonette, Comcast, and our other generous donors.” 

The remodeling of the former pavilion and storage building was accomplished with a $100,000 donation of materials and construction service from Miller’s company, R.E.M. Development Company, and through additional construction labor donated by Bissonette’s property maintenance company, Bissonette Properties.  Penny for Parks funds, with additional support from an anonymous private donor, covered the cost of the courts overhauls.  The tennis courts will play host for the King Street Center’s award-winning and much-loved Kids On the Ball youth tennis program, run by former tennis pro Jake Agna.

“I am really excited about this project,” Bridges said.  “The presence of the Boys & Girls Club in Roosevelt Park will bring new life and energy to the park and will deepen the positive connections between people and parks, between children who grow up in the Old North End and the park that lies at the heart of their neighborhood.”

Penny for Parks is an annual funding plan for parks capital improvement projects.  Established in 2008, it was approved by 64 percent of the voters as a parks improvement fund and is supported by a dedicated tax.  Penny for Parks is a short- and long-range financial planning and project implementation tool developed to address community needs for the ongoing improvement of parks facilities.  Through Penny for Parks, the Parks and Recreation Department is able to schedule the implementation of improvements over time and better able to identify phased funding strategies.

At the direction of Mayor Weinberger, a full community outreach and ranking process was established in the spring of 2012 to get the stalled program moving again, resulting in an aggressive plan to move projects forward.  Since that time, 61 projects have been completed with an investment of $1.3 million of Penny for Parks funds during fiscal years 2013 and 2014.  Further, more than $800,000 from additional funding sources has been leveraged with Penny for Parks funds during that time.

“When the Parks Commission developed Penny for Parks, our goal was to create a funding source to ensure that we got the most out of our parks – to prevent deterioration and to have funds to provide parks for our kids and for all members of the community,” said Dave Hartnett, Ward 4 City Councilor and Treasurer of the 2008 campaign to pass the Penny for Parks ballot initiative.  “We worked hard to get Penny for Parks passed to achieve results like we’re seeing today – meaningful parks improvements like those at Calahan, Leddy, Roosevelt – with more to come.  Mayor Weinberger immediately prioritized Penny for Parks, and now his team has put us on a clear and successful Penny for Parks path.”

For fiscal year 2015, more than 30 parks improvement projects budgeted at over $1.1 million and funded by a combination of Penny for Parks funds, Parks Impact Fees, and the Capital Improvement Program are planned.  Planning also is underway for additional projects funded by tax increment financing, federal and state grants, and private donations.  These projects include the Bike Path Rehabilitation, improvements to Waterfront Park, and Perkins Pier harbor protection.  Residents may submit project ideas to the Parks and Recreation Department through December 31, 2014 for consideration in the fiscal year 2016 project list.  The project request form, along with more information about the Penny for Parks program, may be found by visiting

*Penny for Parks Completed Projects List for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 attached.


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