Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

March 2019 Update from Mayor Weinberger: Town Meeting Day, Burlington Telecom, Moran, and Progress in Our Response to the Opioid Epidemic

Town Meeting Day is approaching, and I always feel like we in the City are doing our job when we have ballots like this one that are full of important proposals for Burlingtonians to consider and decide. For informational materials about the six City questions on this year's Town Meeting Day ballot, please check out the page on the City website. This year, you'll also see two new and exciting items at the polls: The option to receive an "I Voted" sticker that's designed to incorporate our City flag, and our first Equity Report included as an insert in the City's 2018 Annual Report. You can also view the Equity Report online here:


Meanwhile, the City has made encouraging progress on three vital issues over this past month: Our response to the opioid epidemic, our work to bring resolution to the Burlington Telecom lawsuit that began seven years ago, and our plans to transform the Moran Plant into an iconic, functional landmark along our waterfront.


An Important Step for Burlington Telecom

After a year-long, deliberative process, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission has approved the sale of Burlington Telecom to Schurz Communications, marking the final stage of a process that the City began in 2014 to resolve the Burlington Telecom litigation. The Commission completely rejected all of the arguments made by a handful of residents attempting to obstruct the agreement with Schurz and the City’s hard-earned settlement agreement with CitiBank. Over the past seven years, the City has taken what was a very challenging hand – a $33 million lawsuit brought by one of the largest banks in the world, a credit rating on the edge of junk bond status, and the risk of having to tear the fiber optic network out of the ground – and found a way to 1) earn credit rating upgrades that have saved taxpayers more than $12.6 million, 2) ensure that current and future Burlingtonians will continue to benefit from the powerful fiber optic resources installed by BT, 3) resolve the risk of liability while recovering as much as we could of the money spent by the City prior to 2010, and importantly and often overlooked, 4) ensure that we never go back to the days when we suffered at the hands of a telecommunications monopoly. Over the course of these years, we have had to make difficult decisions, but have been guided throughout by these very goals, and we are now on the cusp of success on every front.


Moving Forward with the FRAME Concept for Moran

This past month, the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the FRAME concept for the Moran Plant, marking a significant milestone in the 30-year history of efforts to transform a vacant industrial site into a gathering place for Burlingtonians. This plan will peel back much of the exterior of the building to reveal the structure beneath, stabilize and remediate the site, and add needed amenities to the northern waterfront, including year-round bathrooms, site lighting, and a connection to the bike path. At the same time, this plan will also provide the “frame” to add additional amenities and uses in the future if Burlingtonians wish to do so. With this vote, we are finally moving toward resolution on the Moran Plant, and completing our work to make the northern Waterfront more accessible and enjoyable for all.


Progress in Our Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic

In 2018, opioid-related overdose fatalities declined by 50 percent in Chittenden County, even as such deaths continued to rise in the rest of the state. We are still losing far too many neighbors, co-workers, and children to this epidemic, and our work is far from done. Yet, at the same time, this decline represents real progress flowing from the commitment, focus, and constellation of innovative strategies that the City and our partners have implemented over the last two years. We plan to aggressively and relentlessly continue this work.  I am hopeful that our strategies will continue to turn the tide on this epidemic in Chittenden County, and in turn, be replicated and scaled in other regions of the state and country.


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. 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.