Happy New Year!
I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. 2016 was an eventful year for our City, with a number of exciting projects and initiatives moving forward. I am grateful to our Burlington community for supporting this important work.
Burlington Town Center enters the design review stage
The voters of our City spoke clearly on November 8 when they put their trust in our Administration with “yes” votes on ballot questions #3 and #4. Thanks to those voters, the Burlington Town Center (BTC) redevelopment has taken several significant steps closer to breaking ground in 2017.
On December 7, 2016, Devonwood Investors, owner and developer of the BTC, announced that it had retained eight local firms as a part of its team to move the redevelopment project forward. Locally founded and based PC Construction will serve as the project’s general contractor and construction manager. These firms employ hundreds of workers, and their selection is a tribute to the considerable talent in our own backyard. BTC’s announcement also represented the immediate economic benefit of the voters’ decision on November 8 to support the BTC redevelopment.
Soon after this announcement, the BTC team submitted its project permits to the City for review. The project will go to the Development Review Board after it has been reviewed by the Conservation Board and the Design Advisory Board, with construction slated to begin in the first half of 2017. I look forward to seeing this project achieve significant progress on creating hundreds of new construction and permanent jobs, environmental protections for our lake, and a revitalized downtown neighborhood with hundreds of new homes in place of an aging mall.
Newest section of the Burlington Bike Path opens for the winter
Another project that made major strides in 2016 was the completion of the newest section of the Burlington Bike Path, which rehabilitated and realigned the path from the new Andy A-Dog Williams Skatepark to North Beach. This work constitutes phase 1b of the Bike Path rehabilitation, and was funded with resources from the Waterfront Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, the Penny for Parks program, the Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Improvement Program, and Bike Path Maintenance and Improvement Fund. The progress would not have been possible, however, without the million dollar philanthropic effort successfully led by the Parks Foundation.
Thanks to the voters who supported the 10-year capital plan-related ballot items #1 and #2, the City will now be able to continue renovating the remaining six miles of the Bike Path, increasing its beauty, resilience, connectivity and accessibility for decades to come.
I had an opportunity to ride the newest segment of the Bike Path on a fat bike provided by Old Spokes Home on December 12, and was impressed to see the stunning new views of Lake Champlain from the realigned portion of the path, the new, ADA accessible ramp leading to Texaco Beach, and the three new “pause places” that soon will be home to fitness equipment donated by the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC). UVMMC was a major participant in the Parks Foundation’s efforts to raise philanthropic funding for the path improvements.
This section of the Bike Path opened to the public on December 17, and will remain plowed through the winter.
For those who were unable to join me for the sneak preview ride, or have not yet visited the Waterfront to take a look, you can watch a video flyover of the new segment here: https://vimeo.com/191517477. You can also watch a video of our fat bike ride along Texaco Beach here: https://vimeo.com/197544619.
Transitioning Burlington toward a “net zero energy” future
The Waterfront Bike Path and the BTC redevelopment project also tie into the City’s ongoing effort to reduce its energy consumption and begin moving toward a net zero energy future within the next 10 years. The Bike Path encourages walking and biking as alternative forms of transportation, while the BTC redevelopment is key to the City’s goal of creating a district energy heating system that ultimately will use waste heat from Burlington Electric’s McNeil Generating Station to warm downtown buildings, bringing Burlington the potential for significant energy savings.
Burlington has led the way in the past by becoming the first city in the nation to source 100 percent of its power from renewable generation, and I firmly believe we have the potential to lead again by becoming one of the first cities to generate as much, if not more, renewable energy than it consumes. We already have earned recognition for our work: in November of 2016, Burlington was featured by POLITICO Magazine for its renewable energy accomplishments and goals. POLITICO notes that, with the City’s improved bike path, its new electric vehicle charging stations, and its plan to create a district energy heating system, our goal to become a net zero energy city is within reach.
You can read the full article here: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/burlington-what-works-green-energy-214463
I look forward to a continuing conversation about these and other exciting City projects. As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8-9am to share any thoughts or questions you may have. You are also invited to visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MiroBTV/, or follow me on Twitter at @MiroBTV for up-to-date information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments.
I look forward to seeing you soon and, again, happy New Year!