Mayor’s Office

January 2019

As we close out 2018, I’m grateful for the work that we did together this year to make Burlington an even better place to live, work, and visit, and I’m also excited for all that is ahead in this new year. I wish all of you a wonderful 2019. 

 

2018 – a Year of Major Infrastructure Investment

The numbers are in, and in 2018, the Department of Public Works reconstructed nearly 3 miles of sidewalks and paved more than 7 miles of roads. That’s up from a typical year of about 1 mile of sidewalks and 3 miles of roads prior to 2017 – and doesn’t capture the new curb replacement and water main relining and replacing that we’re also now doing at the same time. With this work, we are carrying out the Sustainable Infrastructure Plan that voters passed in 2016 – and as we look back on our second year of implementation, we can see that we are making real progress.

 

The New Moran Concept: Iconic, Affordable, and Doable

Earlier this year I asked the City Community and Economic Development team to take a creative relook at options to stabilize and activate the Moran Plant along our waterfront. Instead of a full redevelopment (too expensive) or a full demolition (also very expensive), I wanted to see if there was any other path. In December, the team presented their idea to the City Council, and it’s like nothing we’ve seen before. Called “FRAME,” the new concept for Moran would peel back much of the exterior of the building to reveal the structure beneath, and in the process, transform an eyesore into a sculptural landmark along our waterfront, create new opportunities for events and recreation, and add bathrooms and other amenities to the recently reborn northern waterfront. Down the road, the structure could also provide a “frame” for other activities, like ice skating or outdoor movies.

 

This concept is different from past ideas for Moran in a crucial way: It is affordable and achievable. The City has about $5.4 million of voter-approved economic development funds reserved for Moran in our Waterfront TIF district to complete the first phase of the project quickly with no impact on Burlington property tax rates. For more information about the FRAME concept for Moran, see: burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO/Moran.

 

City Hall Park

After seven years of extensive public process, the City is on the cusp of breaking ground on a project to update and improve City Hall Park. The plan responds to decades of calls for improvements to the park, and will elevate it into an inspiring, active, and versatile public space in our downtown, with more than 1,500 new perennials and grasses, greatly improved ADA access, replacement and upgrade of the often-broken fountain, and more. The plan also features changes to reduce compacted soils and erosion, and improve the health of a total of 48 trees in the park (a slight reduction from the current 51 trees, approximately half of which are now in poor health).

 

Throughout the planning process, the City has made many improvements to the new design to respond to and address concerns and disagreements raised about the plan. However, despite extensive efforts at compromise and a clear decision from the City Council, for many months a group has circulated a petition that calls for the current City Hall Park plan to be thrown out. I address the issues raised by this group in a recent update to the community on City Hall Park, which you can find in the “Mayor’s Updates” section of the City website.

 

In short, this petition is being made far too late. Redesigning the park again would waste the more than $500,000 of taxpayer resources that have been invested in the planning and engineering of the new park, and almost certainly ensure that the park remains in its neglected state for many years to come. I sincerely hope that as a community, we instead choose a different path – and break ground on this project, as planned, in spring 2019.

 

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 this or any other topics that are on your mind. I look forward to seeing you soon.