Mayor’s Office

April 2019 Update from Mayor Weinberger: Early Learning Initiative, Investing in Roads and Sidewalks, and Moving Forward with City Hall Park

April marks the start of a new season here in City government, with the swearing in of newly elected City Councilors and my annual opportunity to address Burlingtonians on the State of the City. In this year’s address, I reflected on what I see as three of our most urgent areas of work in the year ahead: Continuing to invest in our infrastructure and strengthen the City’s financial health; Setting and achieving some of the most ambitious climate goals in the country and becoming a model of how cities can lead the way in the fight against climate change; and Reforming our housing policy, which I see as crucial to ensuring that Burlington is a diverse, equitable, and prosperous community where everyone has the opportunity succeed.

I invite you to read the full text of this year’s State of the City, which you can find at burlingtonvt.gov/Mayor/State-of-the-City or on the City homepage. Meanwhile, I also want to update you on three other areas in which we are making progress: Our Early Learning Initiative, our work to invest in our roads and sidewalks, and our plan to revitalize City Hall Park.

Early Learning Initiative Launches Scholarships

Every parent knows that it’s tough to find affordable and high-quality childcare – and that it can make all the difference. After reviewing the research on how early childhood education can help close achievement gaps, not to mention reduce future public spending, I worked with the City Council and community partners to create the Burlington Early Learning Initiative (ELI).

Now, I am excited that we are launching the latest component of this initiative: The ELI First Steps Scholarship Program. This program will award 20 or more Burlington families with a one-year scholarship for Fall 2019 enrollment in childcare, and we plan to build on what we learn in this pilot year to expand the program in future years. Head to burlingtonvt.gov/it/earlylearning to find more information on how the program works and who is eligible to apply. With this program, we are taking real action to make our City more equitable and invest in our future.

Pothole Season and Investing in Roads and Sidewalks

Spring is pothole season here in Vermont, and our team at the Department of Public Works (DPW) is working hard to both patch trouble spots around the City and finalize plans for the repaving and other infrastructure work that will kick off once the asphalt plants open up later this spring.

On the pothole front, our DPW Street Maintenance team is working hard. After working extra shifts on more than sixty days to clear the roads and sidewalks during a tough winter, the team is now out applying tons (literally) of “cold patch” and hot mix to the roads every day. These cold weather fixes often don’t last long and are far from perfect, but they get us through this challenging season. Residents can report issues using SeeClickFix, and our team’s average response time to those reports is less than two days.

Meanwhile, we are also gearing up for our third year in a row of historic reinvestment in our roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure. Thanks to the Sustainable Infrastructure Plan that voters passed in 2016, this year, we plan to repave more than 4 miles of roads, which will bring our three-year total to 17 miles – approximately double the work of a typical three-year period. At the same time, we are also tripling our investment in sidewalks, rehabilitating our waterlines, and making other needed investments to ensure that our core infrastructure is sound.

Moving Forward with City Hall Park

At the end of March, the City Council voted 10-2 to approve the construction contract to begin work on City Hall Park. This important project will revitalize and transform this central space in the heart of our city into a great public space, making it far more green, accessible, and beautiful than it is today.

While bids for this renovation came in higher than our estimates, the City team worked hard to find additional cost savings in the project and to secure additional philanthropic support. Over the last few years we have also negotiated several agreements for our institutions to share in the cost of the park and other public infrastructure.  As a result of this work, we will deliver a $6 million park to the Burlington public for an investment of $1.25 million in property tax funds. Following the Council’s vote, I look forward to getting started on this project and enjoying our revitalized City Hall Park for years to come.

As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on North Avenue on Wednesday mornings from 8-9 am to share your thoughts and questions about these or any other topics that are on your mind. We are also now live-streaming these coffees just about every week so you can watch and weigh in from home. I look forward to seeing you soon.