Mayor’s Office

Update to the Community on City Hall Park

Friends –

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season. I write to update and clarify the status of the City's plan to substantially renovate City Hall Park in 2019.

After seven years of extensive public process and multiple substantial redesigns, the City is on the cusp of breaking ground on this long-awaited project to update and improve the park. City Hall Park is beloved by many of us as a vital green space in the downtown, a location for both social gathering and decompressing, and home of many of our most-loved events as a community, including the Farmers Market in the summer. At the same time, for years we've heard significant concerns from the public about safety, erosion, and infrastructure in the park.

These plans, which are fully permitted, address those needs. They include more than 1500 new shrubs, perennials and grasses, greatly improved Americans with Disabilities Act access, replacement and upgrade of the often-broken fountain, and lake-protecting stormwater improvements. They also feature changes to the park's plazas and paths that are designed to reduce compacted soils, increase pervious surfaces, and improve the health of the 48 trees in the park. (This is a slight reduction from the current 51 trees, approximately half of which are now in poor health. Please see the document "Tree Health Assessment Map," available at: http://greatstreetsbtv.com/city-hall-park/).

When complete, City Hall Park – the geographic and symbolic heart of our City – will better accommodate the Farmers Market on busy summer Saturdays, and be used and enjoyed by Burlingtonians and our visitors far more throughout the rest of the year. For more on the park plan please see the project plans (available at: http://greatstreetsbtv.com/city-hall-park/) and our page of FAQs on the City Parks website (available at: https://enjoyburlington.com/city-hall-parks-faqs/). We will also be working to share more information about the plan in the coming weeks as we near construction.

Throughout the planning process the City has worked to respond to and address concerns and disagreements raised about the plan. After an extensive outreach effort in the fall of 2016, the City made major changes to the plan before commencing permitting a year later. In the summer of 2018, after permits had been secured, the City took the unusual step of creating a special committee that included members of Keep the Park Green. The committee worked hard for weeks to achieve compromise and made further changes to the design.

Following the conclusion of the committee's work, on June 25, 2018 the City Council voted 11-1 for the Administration to proceed towards a 2019 construction start of the project and to communicate this intention to all of the park stakeholders.

Since the vote, we have worked hard and expended considerable resources implementing the Council's decision. We have completed construction documents for the new park and will put them out to bid early in the new year. We have advised the Farmers Market of our intention to be in construction and are working closely with the market to support their relocation to an alternative site for the 2019 season. We are, in short, fully on track to commence construction as soon as winter breaks and substantially complete the renovation before the end of 2019.

Despite these extensive efforts at compromise and the Council's clear decision, for many months a group has circulated a petition that calls for the current City Hall Park plan to be thrown out and a new plan created. The group failed to secure sufficient signatures to achieve City Council consideration of the petition prior to the November election, and as of this writing the group is still short of this threshold.

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 design of the new park, disrupt the City's efforts to coordinate with the Farmers Market and other park stakeholders, 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 forward. The current plan responds to decades of calls for improvements and will elevate the park into an inspiring, active, and versatile public space. We will keep working hard on this important project and I hope to see you at the groundbreaking this spring.

As always, I encourage you to get in touch with me directly with your thoughts and questions about this plan. You can join me at the Bagel Café on North Avenue on Wednesday mornings from 8-9am (though I am taking a break on the 26th next week!), or reach me by email at mayor@burlingtonvt.gov.

Warmly, 
Miro