Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

July 2019 Update from Mayor Weinberger: Parks, Child Care, and the Budget

July 2019

As we head into high summer in Burlington, I’m thinking about access to our waterfront and Parks system. I’m also excited to share news about both expanding child care in Burlington and our budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which balances fiscal responsibility with needed investments in clean water, affordable housing, and other critical areas.

Investing in Our Parks System

We opened the City’s newest public park at the end of June, and it was an exciting event for a number of reasons. First, the new park is great. Named Water Works Park – after the withdrawal and treatment of drinking water that happens at the treatment facility right next door – the new park transformed what was formerly a small parking lot into new public access to the edge of Lake Champlain, complete with features like nine benches, a boardwalk, and stormwater improvements in order to increase accessibility, safety, and sustainability in this portion of the waterfront.

Water Works Park also marks two important achievements: The ongoing rebirth of the northern waterfront, and the reinvestment in our City’s Parks system that I have worked to prioritize during my Administration. On the waterfront, we have now completed five of the six projects we announced back in 2014 – and we have a plan to bring resolution to the remaining project, the Moran Plant. With these projects, we have been able to transform what only a few years ago was still a post-industrial landscape into a place where, today, many more people can access and enjoy Lake Champlain.

At the same time, we have also invested in the tremendous public resource that is our Parks system. By the end of this year, we will have rehabilitated nearly seven of the eight miles of the Burlington Bike Path. We have opened up new waterfront access to the public through Texaco Beach, and are working on turning the 12 acres behind it into a new public park. We have improved public access to the 163-acre Rock Point and Arms Forest. And we have revived the Penny for Parks fund, and used it to complete more than 100 projects to maintain and improve our neighborhood parks. Across all of these projects, we are working hard to steward the parks and public lands across the City for everyone’s use and enjoyment.

Expanding Access to Child Care

Also in June, I was proud to join Champlain Valley Head Start and Burlington Housing Authority to help break ground at a new, high-quality child care center in the Old North End. This new center will create 23 new child care spots, and is made possible in part through funding from an innovative municipal program, the Early Learning Initiative, that we launched about two years ago. We know that both access to and affordability of child care is one of the greatest challenges that families face in Burlington – and one of the best public investments we can make in our City’s future – and it is exciting to see the Early Learning Initiative starting to have an impact.

Budget for Fiscal Year 2020

July 1 marks the start of a new Fiscal Year for the City, and in mid-June, after months of discussions and collaboration, the City Council approved the budget I proposed without amendment by a vote of 11-1. This year’s budget continues our track record of responsibly stewarding Burlington’s finances while also reinvesting in the present and future of our City. Contained within the budget’s many pages is the story of Burlington, from rehabilitating our roads and sidewalks to sustaining community investments like our Housing Trust Fund and Early Learning Initiative. We have worked hard to make these needed investments while prioritizing affordability for Burlington property taxpayers, and have kept increases in property taxes for City operations well below the rate of inflation over the last eight budgets. See more about this year’s budget on the City website.

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. I look forward to seeing you soon.