Mayor’s Office

Mayor Miro Weinberger Highlights Substantial Capital Improvements to City Buildings; Announces 82 Percent Increase in Sidewalk Funding


January 28, 2015
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

Mayor Miro Weinberger Highlights Substantial Capital Improvements to City Buildings; Announces 82 Percent Increase in Sidewalk Funding

Improvements Signal Better Stewardship of City Assets, Make Buildings  More Energy Efficient; 10-Year Capital Plan to Responsibly Maintain City Assets Coming

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today highlighted more than $3.3 million worth of projects underway or completed in the past 13 months that make necessary repairs and energy efficiency improvements to City assets, and also announced $375,000 in additional sidewalk improvements funding for this spring.  These projects, along with previously announced Penny for Parks projects, represent important steps in a long-term effort to responsibly maintain the City’s many physical assets.  In the weeks ahead, the Administration will release a draft 10-year capital plan – the first ever systemic effort to guide, coordinate, and keep affordable the City’s investments over the next decade.                         

“Stewardship of both our City’s buildings and sidewalks is a fundamental responsibility of local government that we are focused on performing well,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “The improvements in our buildings will save taxpayer dollars, improve safety, and reduce our impact on the environment, and our substantial increase in sidewalk funding responds to the citizen concern that I hear most often.”

The Mayor and other stakeholders cut a ribbon at Fire Station #1, officially marking the completion of the installation of a new boiler and HVAC system and the repair of the station ramp.  The Central Station projects, which will save taxpayers over $12,000 annually, are emblematic of others recently completed across the City.   In total, the completion of more than 30 projects, from Roosevelt Park to Leddy Arena to Fletcher Free Library, signaled a renewed commitment to the long-term management of municipal assets.

“After many years of little investment, the improvements here to Station #1 help our department work more effectively to serve the residents of Burlington,” said Fire Department Chief Engineer Seth Lasker.  “Necessary improvements have been made at every station across the City, replacing inefficient boilers, upgrading windows, repairing roofs, adding insulation, and updating the lighting systems.”

Capital Improvements to City Buildings

Of the many different capital improvement projects, nine energy efficiency projects with a total cost of $662,000 offset by rebates of $25,000 will save taxpayers approximately $70,000 annually.  These projects were completed with the existing and previously underutilized budget for capital improvement.  As part of the improvement work, the City has conducted facility assessments of every building, City sidewalks, garages, and other municipal capital assets to help form the foundation of Mayor Weinberger’s 10-year capital plan.  The capital plan will provide the City with a schedule to make efficient reinvestments in its infrastructure.  In addition to planning for capital reinvestments, City Departments have improved preventative maintenance protocols to reduce future capital costs.  These improvements and progress were realized through the Mayor’s directive to create the new Capital Improvement Project Manager position at the Department of Public Works (DPW) and would not have been possible without the collective efforts and leadership of Martha Keenan, hired 13 months ago to fill the newly-created role, City Engineer Norm Baldwin, and DPW Director Chapin Spencer.  The work already is having an impact on City buildings like Fletcher Free Library (FFL).

“New lighting, painting, and carpeting in the Fletcher Free Library are long overdue,” said FFL Director Rubi Simon.  “Our aim is to make the library a more welcoming and safe space for Burlington families and residents.  Capital improvements carried out last year and the ones planned for this year demonstrate the City’s commitment to sustaining our public library.”

Additional Sidewalk Funding

The $375,000 sidewalk funding increase to support work this spring was made possible by the prioritization of this critical need in response to public concerns.  Combined with a separate $49,000 funding increase last fall, the total increase in funding of $424,000 represents an 82 percent increase in DPW’s average annual sidewalk budget of $515,000. Additional resources will continue to be available in future years for sidewalk improvements through the downtown tax increment financing district.  The Administration also has brought forward a Great Streets ballot item for Town Meeting Day to rebuild the sidewalks on St. Paul and Main Streets and South Winooski Avenue as the first phase of an effort to use tax increment financing (TIF) funding to restore and improve sidewalks throughout much of the downtown. DPW also contracted for an assessment of all 127 miles of City sidewalk.  That assessment, expected to be complete by the end of February, will help guide how the new resources are allocated to improving the City’s sidewalks.

“As both the Director of First Night and a resident of the New North End, I can tell you the importance of safe, warm buildings and good sidewalks,” said Ward 7 City Councilor Tom Ayres, a member of the City Council’s Transportation, Energy, and Utilities Committee.  “We need good infrastructure – maintained in a cost-effective way – to bring people to our great events, keep people connected in our neighborhoods, and build an inclusive community.”

Ralph Montefusco, Chair of the City’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility, noted the benefits this work would have for all residents, stating:  “Systematic reinvestment in our community’s sidewalks has a tangible benefit for all residents – it improves mobility for many and makes the City more inclusive.”

Promoting a More Walkable, Livable City of Burlington

The new sidewalk funding also contributes to Mayor Weinberger’s efforts to earn the City national recognition as a Gold-level Walk Friendly and Bike Friendly Community. 

“The Mayor’s emphasis on infrastructure improvements is important to the Chamber and its members,” said Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Torti.  “Well-maintained City buildings, and high-quality sidewalks, become in effect the face of our community to the many tourists who visit Burlington.” 

“Burlington's investment in sidewalks has already increased the attractiveness and livability of this City,” said Local Motion Executive Director Emily Boedecker.  “More than 20 percent of residents now commute on foot, a higher percentage than any other mid-sized city evaluated in a 2014 national report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking.  The City’s wise investment in maintaining and completing the sidewalk network will continue to yield economic and community benefits.”

“I am pleased with the progress Team DPW has made in establishing systems for the long-term care of our municipal assets, and look forward to what we can accomplish with these new resources,” said DPW Director Spencer. “Sidewalks are something our community prioritizes, and a good pedestrian network will improve the quality of life in the City.”

*Please see the Capital Improvement Project List, available here.

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