Mayor Miro Weinberger Responds to City Hall Park Petition, and Urges City Council to Continue to Move Forward with City Hall Park Improvements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2019

Contact: Olivia LaVecchia

                  (802) 734-0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Responds to City Hall Park Petition, and Urges City Council to Continue to Move Forward with City Hall Park Improvements

 

Burlington, VT – Today, the advocacy group Keep the Park Green announced that it has secured additional signatures for a petition that asks the City Council to consider placing an advisory ballot item about City Hall Park on the Town Meeting Day ballot. The Clerk and Treasurer’s office will now review and validate these signatures, and determine whether this group has reached the five percent threshold of registered voters. In response to the announcement, Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement:

 

“Under our municipal charter, fairly written advisory ballot items often play an important role in clarifying voter preferences prior to a decision by the City Council. I welcome and encourage community input on issues important to our City, and I am appreciative of all of those who participated in multiple intensive rounds of public engagement on the plans for City Hall Park since 2011. This input has resulted in significant changes and improvements to the final park plan.

 

“Unfortunately, the wording of the Keep the Park Green petition is misleading in multiple ways.* Further, it has been brought forward months after the City Council has already made the decision in question.

 

“Following a multi-month process last spring and summer between the City and the leaders of Keep the Park Green, the City Council voted 11-1 on June 25, 2018 to modify the City Hall Park plan to reflect additional compromises, and to proceed toward starting construction of this project in 2019. Pursuant to that decision, the City team has now completed construction documents, is out to bid on the construction contract, and is on track to give the notice to proceed with construction to the successful bidder in February.

 

“Putting the proposed question on the ballot at this late date for a March vote will, at best, delay the project by six to eight weeks. This delay will push the construction start to late spring, thereby risking substantially higher construction pricing and increasing disruption for the Farmers Market and other downtown stakeholders by extending construction into two seasons. Adding the question to the ballot will also cause enduring damage to the people of Burlington by sending the message to grant funders, donors, City staff, and other critical partners that no City Council decision is final, no matter how late a petition is made, and no matter the expense.

 

“I urge the City Council to stay the course and continue to support a plan that will make our central public space far more green, welcoming, and accessible for future generations.”

 

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*For example, the petition states that the plan “removes approximately 40% of the trees and increases paved area to cover about one-third of the park.” These statements are incomplete and misleading. In fact, the final plan for the park includes between 92% and 96% of the total number of trees in the park (which includes 18 new trees and between 29 and 31 existing trees, for a total of between 47 and 49 trees compared with the 51 trees that are in the park today; The range reflects some trees with health concerns). Furthermore, per professional studies, the park today effectively functions as though nearly 43% of it were covered with hard surface (the park today is 25.2% hardscape and 18.6% compacted soils). The plan for the park will improve soil and tree health through multiple strategies, modestly expand hardscape in order to increase accessibility and focus foot traffic away from grassy areas, and utilize permeable pavers for total impervious surface of 32.5% -- significantly less than exists in the park today.

 

For additional information about the park plan, please see: https://enjoyburlington.com/city-hall-parks-faqs/

 

Press Release Date: 
01/16/2019
City Department: 
Mayor's Office