FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 24, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement Welcoming Dr. Howard Smith as Interim Superintendent

“I’d like to welcome Dr. Howard Smith to his new role as interim superintendent of the Burlington School District.  I am optimistic that Dr. Smith will provide critical leadership and a smooth transition at a very important time for our school district.  My Administration is committed to working with Dr. Smith, his team, and the school board to promote the best interests of the children in our community.  Once again, I am very grateful to the teachers, principals, and staff in all our schools who have continued their excellent work with students during these challenging times.”

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/24/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                    802.735.7962

Mayor, Burlington Town Center Owner Announce Partnership to Comprehensively Redevelop Downtown Mall Consistent with planBTV

Administration, Mall Owner to Negotiate Development Agreement via Transparent, Public Process;
Over $200M Investment in New Retail, Office Space, Housing, Related Public Improvements to
Create New Jobs, Grow State and Local Revenues, Restore Public Pedestrian and
Bike Connections, Revitalize Bank and Cherry Streets

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and new Burlington Town Center (BTC) owner Don Sinex, Managing Partner of Devonwood Investors, LLC, today, joined by Governor Peter Shumlin, announced a partnership to comprehensively redevelop the downtown mall consistent with the planBTV Downtown & Waterfront Master Plan.  The Administration and Sinex will negotiate a development agreement through a transparent, public process.  An investment of more than $200 million in new retail, office space, housing, and public spaces would create new jobs, grow state and local revenues, restore public north-south pedestrian and bike connections through the mall along the St. Paul Street and Pine Street corridors, create a dramatic new roof-top park between Church Street and Macy’s, revitalize Bank and Cherry streets and the surrounding downtown, and complement the City’s new multi-modal transit center with one of Vermont’s first transit-oriented developments.

At today’s announcement in the mall beside the new L.L. Bean store, Mayor Weinberger stated: “Over the course of 2012 and 2013, the thousands of Burlingtonians who helped create planBTV identified major redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center mall as one of the top goals for the downtown for the coming decades.  I am excited that, just one year later, Don Sinex has stepped forward with a creative, public-private redevelopment concept that implements the planBTV vision of additional downtown housing and jobs, restored pedestrian and bike connectivity, and greater vibrancy on Bank and Cherry streets.  I look forward to working with the public and Mr. Sinex in the months and years ahead to review and refine the concept and together make it a reality.”

“With each step I take in the process of redeveloping the Burlington Town Center to create a dynamic mixed use, transit-oriented project, I include a focus on the needs and desires of the Burlington community,” said Sinex.  “I am counting on the public to offer impactful input and ideas that will help us achieve our goal of turning the mall inside out – of transforming one, often hidden space into a multitude of outward-facing shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, parks, and other open spaces.  My vision is to create a mall that offers something for everyone – local community members and out-of-town visitors looking to shop, dine, be entertained – and that brings jobs, revenue, and economic benefit to Burlington and to Vermont.  Like the Mayor, I believe that we’ll arrive at the best plan for BTC only by engaging in a transparent, public process that considers a wide range of community needs and ideas.”

“This project shows how we can utilize innovative public-private partnerships to continue to strengthen Vermont's downtowns,” said Governor Shumlin.  “Burlington is already a model for how downtown development can spur job growth, economic opportunity, and positive community engagement.  Today's announcement is just one more example of how Mayor Weinberger and his team are getting it right for Burlington and Vermont.”

“The partnership announced today exemplifies the best qualities of 21st century downtown development,” said Speaker of the House Shap Smith, who was unable to attend the event.  “I commend Mayor Weinberger and the development team for creating a public-private partnership that reflects the needs of Burlington to expand housing and commercial and retail space offerings.  I look forward to working together on this exciting economic development opportunity.”
 

Fulfillment of Major planBTV Downtown & Waterfront Master Plan Goals

The Burlington Town Center opened in 1976 under the name Burlington Square Mall in conjunction with 1960s-era urban renewal development.  While the existing mall has been credited with expanding the retail base of our downtown, the mall has been a chronic underperformer and a barrier to north-south connectivity, and has precluded the growth of a vibrant street life on Bank and Cherry streets.  PlanBTV Downtown & Waterfront Master Plan, a community-based planning process that engaged thousands of Burlingtonians, outlines these deficiencies and identifies restoring connectivity of the urban grid and redevelopment of the mall as major planning priorities.  At page 108, planBTV “…suggests the addition of larger residential, mixed-use buildings by redeveloping underutilized parcels, essential for addressing citywide housing needs, reducing traffic congestion and parking demand, and supporting the continued vitality of our downtown economy.”  Sinex and a friend purchased the mall as equal partners from General Growth Properties in December 2013 and, shortly thereafter, Sinex purchased his partner’s interest in the mall to become the sole owner.

 

Conceptual Project Plan for BTC

Sinex’s conceptual project plans include the complete transformation and rebuilding over time of the BTC, including three new buildings and a 1.5-acre public rooftop park.  The BTC plan responds to planBTV by adding downtown housing, improving pedestrian streetscapes and downtown connectivity, and utilizing strategic infill building opportunities.  The new mall concept plan would achieve the following:

  • Housing consisting of more than 250 apartment units
  • Retail space expansion of approximately 225,000 square feet (adding to the existing 125,000 square feet), including:
    • Destination retailers, like L.L. Bean
    • A department store
    • Restaurants
    • Entertainment venues
  • Office space expansion of approximately 150,000 square feet (adding to the existing 35,000 square feet)
  • A convention center-style hotel with 250 rooms and 40,000 square feet of convention, showroom, and business meeting space that could accommodate 5,000-person events and 1,000-person seated banquets
  • A new underground garage with approximately 950 parking spaces (an additional 375 spaces)

Sinex’s conceptual project plans will be evaluated by the City team and the community through a transparent, public process aimed at creating a development agreement between the City and Sinex.

 

Community Benefits

Sinex projects that the benefits a redeveloped BTC would bring to Burlington include:

  • Growing more jobs in Burlington
    • 300 temporary construction jobs
    • Between 1,000 and 1,600 permanent jobs
  • Increasing housing, retail, and office space
  • Enhancing downtown connectivity by reestablishing north-south pedestrian connections through the mall on St. Paul and Pine streets
  • Complementing the City’s new multi-modal downtown transit center with a major transit-oriented development project
  • Bringing vibrancy and activities to Cherry and Bank streets
  • Serving as the potential winter home for Burlington Farmers’ Market
  • Building useable public spaces and amenities, including:
    • Rooftop public parks
    • Other open spaces
    • Increased garage parking
    • Gallerias
    • Protected north-sound bike path under the mall
  • Improving stormwater management
  • Creating economic benefits for Burlington and Vermont, including:
  • $6 million per year in new real estate tax revenue
  • $9.25 million in sales tax revenue during construction
  • $7.2 million per year in additional sales tax revenue
  • $2.4 million per year in hotel occupancy tax revenue
  • $450 million per year in estimated economic activity (multiplier effect)

 

Governor Shumlin, Mayor Weinberger, and Sinex were joined at the announcement by the following community and state leaders, who offered the following statements:

  • Sue Minter, incoming Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation – “This is a very exciting redevelopment project that would complement nicely the investments that VTrans, the City of Burlington, and CCTA are making to construct a modern downtown transit center and set the stage for transit-oriented development in Burlington.  The mixed use aspects of the project design would support VTrans’ goal of creating more vital communities and sustainable transportation.”
  • Greg Marchildon, State Director of AARP Vermont – “AARP is particularly excited to partner with the City and the development team to engage the citizens of Burlington in an important conversation about rebuilding the heart of the City to create a more walkable and livable downtown – a place that supports residents aging in place instead of moving out of the City.  We look forward to an open and transparent public process to advance the community-based vision of planBTV.”  (Director Marchildon was unable to attend the event and was represented by Kelly Stoddard Poor, Director of Outreach of AARP Vermont).
  • Tom Torti, President of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce – “As the home of the Vermont Convention Bureau and the organization charged with driving tourists, meetings, and conventions to Burlington, the Chamber supports the development of a modern, downtown convention center space as essential to the continued prominence of Burlington as a destination of choice for meeting planners and visitors.”
  • Charlie Baker, Executive Director of Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission – “The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission is pleased to see a major property owner in Burlington put forth a proposed redevelopment plan that epitomizes smart growth and transit-oriented development right next to the CCTA’s transit center.  The project would help implement our regional ECOS Plan by addressing the significant housing needs our region faces, while expanding the pedestrian environment, increasing employment, and improving stormwater management.”
  • Emily Boedecker, Executive Director of Local Motion – “This is game-changing placemaking at its best.  We all have been given a rare opportunity today to bring our best ideas to the table.  This re-development would increase the vibrancy of our downtown by creating a place where people want to get out of their cars to socialize and to shop, and where the experience invites them to return – soon and often!  More than just providing facilities for pedestrians and bikers to move through these downtown blocks, this project presents us with an opportunity to expand on the Church Street experience and transform the heart of our small City into a walking and biking destination.”
  • Spencer Welton, Steering Committee President of Burlington Farmers’ Market – “We are excited to be included in the planning and design process for the redevelopment of the downtown mall.  It will be great to explore how the Burlington Farmers' Market can participate in the transformation of our downtown as a more engaged and vibrant year-round, public marketplace.”
  • William H. Truex, Jr., FAIA, former Chair of Burlington Planning Commission/Urban Renewal Agency and Co-Founder of Church Street Marketplace – “The closure of St. Paul and Pine streets 40 years ago was guided by Burlington’s urban renewal planning and had the goal of expanding and connecting the existing Downtown Business District with the lake and waterfront.  The success of the Church Street Marketplace has demonstrated the critical importance of active street edges and public spaces in creating dynamic, interconnected pedestrian districts.  The genius of the new Town Center concept lies in its potential fulfillment of the original goals of increasing the density and diversity of the downtown core land uses and expanding the downtown core west, towards the lake, by reasserting the essential role of an activated and connected public street framework.” 
  • Kelly Devine, Executive Director of Burlington Business Association – “The Burlington Town Center development will have a lasting, positive effect on the heart of Burlington and the entire community.  The project would create expanded parking, new jobs, and additional retail opportunities that would bring significant direct and indirect economic benefits to Burlington.  This project represents just one part of a bright new future for Burlington’s downtown business district.  It is exciting when community members can shape and influence the future of our City.  The Burlington Business Association looks forward to being part of the dialogue that will help shape this significant project and move it forward.”
  • City Council President Joan Shannon, Ward 5 – “While I am not generally known as the first person to stand up and cheer for new development, I offer my strong support for this project, which I believe would not only enhance our downtown, but also solve the biggest problems we have in our existing urban design.  The mall currently is a grand obstruction to our existing grid, preventing pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic from efficiently navigating our City.  Cherry and Bank streets are locked and impervious.  This proposed redevelopment would tear down the walls, reintegrate the north and south end, welcome pedestrians into new streetscapes and structures, and invite human, social, and economic interactions, shunned by our current built environment.”
  • City Councilor Karen Paul, Ward 6 – “When I first learned of Don's vision for our mall and the immense contributions this project would make to our downtown both in terms of economic development potential and exciting visual and human design, ‘transformational’ was the only word that could describe my reaction.  As a lifelong resident of Burlington, I have watched our mall – from the time it was built until today – lack a presence and languish in our otherwise vibrant downtown.   The conceptual design, inspired by the themes in our planBTV blueprint, incorporates an exciting streetscape, intelligent integration of walking and biking venues, plans for a strong retail element, as well as much needed housing – all of which would have significant impacts on Burlington today and well into the future.  The economic implications of this project are far-reaching and truly remarkable for our downtown and our City.”
  • City Councilor Dave Hartnett, Ward 4 – “I am excited about the future of the mall.  Once the vision, complete with public input, becomes a reality, Burlington finally will have a complete downtown.  Members of our community and visitors to town would enjoy the Church Street Marketplace and the mall beyond.  A project like this would go a long way toward making sure we become a big part of the retail picture, and Black Friday and Small Business Saturday would be much brighter in years to come as people visit destination retailers like L.L. Bean and many other nearby shops.”
  • City Councilor Max Tracy, Ward 2 – “As we get started with the public engagement process, it’s exciting to see so many elements of planBTV already embraced in the initial design concepts.  I am particularly excited to see green design, demonstrated by a green roof and improved stormwater treatment, as well as enhanced bike-ped connectivity, through restoration of the street grid on St. Paul and Pine, playing prominent roles from the beginning.”​

 

Next Steps

The Administration expects the City Council to consider a resolution at one of its December meetings authorizing the Administration and Sinex to engage in a transparent, public process to reach a development agreement that will address public amenities, public infrastructure investment, project scale, and other key elements of the public-private partnership.  Upon passage of such a resolution, the Administration and Sinex immediately will be soliciting, receiving, and incorporating public input into their negotiations to create a development agreement as soon as possible.

 

*Please visit this link to view renderings prepared by Sinex’s architectural team from PKSB Architects, PC, Sherida E. Paulsen, FAIA, and William B. Fellows, AIA, including:

  • Concept diagram showing new north-south pedestrian connections/arcades along St. Paul and Pine streets and east-west arcade connecting Church and Pine streets
  • Exterior view of St. Paul Arcade looking north from Bank Street through mall
  • Interior view of St. Paul Arcade looking north showing possible future home of winter Farmers’ Market
  • View of Cherry Street Promenade looking west from L.L. Bean and Transit Center with enhanced street scape, green infrastructure, and street-oriented retail
  • View of rooftop public park, café, and surrounding downtown housing looking northwest

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/20/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                    802.735.7962  

Joint City Effort Establishes Goals, Framework for Next Round of Bargaining to Ease Taxpayer Burden and Stabilize City Retirement System
Retirement Committee Identifies System Departures from National Norms, Proposes Exploring New Risk Sharing Arrangement, Automatic Adjustments 

Burlington, VT – Over the past decade, rapidly growing taxpayer contributions and an increasing unfunded liability (the amount of money the retirement system is obligated to pay in the future for past service costs, but does not currently have available funds to do so) have called into question the long-term sustainability of the City of Burlington’s retirement system.  In a joint effort to address these challenges, the Burlington Retirement Committee – composed of the Mayor, members of the City Council, representatives of each of the four City public employee unions and non-union employees, and members of the Burlington Employee Retirement System (BERS) Board – met between January and October of 2014 to develop a framework for the next round of collective bargaining, possible changes to the City’s Retirement Ordinance, and a number of potential changes to strengthen the system’s foundation. The work is documented in a report prepared for the City Council.

“The framework for pension reform proposed by the Committee would stabilize BERS finances in a manner that ends the steep rise in recent years of pension-related property taxes, ensures the City’s ability to make good on its commitments to retirees, and achieves a long-term resolution of the pension challenges that have plagued the City over the last decade,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I appreciate the work the entire Committee did since January to construct this framework.  While the framework’s goals will be difficult to achieve in the current collective bargaining round, I am encouraged by the process that got us this far and hopeful that we will achieve mutually beneficial results during bargaining.”

The Committee’s report includes a description of that framework, which will serve as the foundation for pension negotiations in the round of collective bargaining now underway with all four Burlington municipal employee unions.  The framework includes:

  • Freezing taxpayer contributions for three years (after which time increases would be pegged to an appropriate index);
  • Restoring the system’s funding level to 85 percent within seven years and maintaining the positive trajectory in the years that follow; and
  • Instituting automatic adjustments that would be agreed to in advance and would share costs between employees and the City should BERS fail to hit these targets in a given year.

With the help of a unanimously selected external consultant, the Committee also identified potential changes to BERS that would achieve these goals.  These changes could include:

  • Making adjustments in areas where Burlington employee benefits and contributions depart from national norms in ways that increase the financial strain on the system;
  • Implementing a new risk-sharing arrangement (currently taxpayers bear a disproportionate amount of the market, mortality, and inflation risk); and
  • Instituting automatic adjustments to the system should certain thresholds be met.

Details on each of these possible approaches are included in the report.

Burlington’s four municipal employee unions are AFSCME Local 1343, the Burlington Fire Fighters Association 3044, the Burlington Police Officers Association, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300.

*Documents and minutes from the Burlington Retirement Committee meetings can be found on the City website by clicking here.

 

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Press Release Date: 
11/13/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 12, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

Mayor Miro Weinberger and Aviation Director Gene Richards Announce BTV Earns Upgraded Credit Rating from Moody’s
BTV Rating Improves to Investment Grade Baa3 from Junk Bond Ba1

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Director of Aviation Gene Richards today announced that Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the credit rating of Burlington International Airport (BTV) by one level to Baa3 from Ba1.  Moody’s action elevates the Airport’s bonds from “junk” status to investment grade for the first time in more than four years.  The rating outlook remains stable, having been improved to stable from negative in January 2014.

“Today’s upgrade is the direct result of years of hard work focused on improving every aspect of the Airport’s financial health,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “I hope the people of Burlington see in this progress proof of our community’s ability to address our challenges and make our great City even stronger.  I am grateful to the Airport staff, City financial officials, the Airport Commission, and the City Council, who have worked together to achieve this upgrade.  We appreciate as well the broad support on this issue from the Burlington community.”

The Moody’s Ratings Report offered the following rationale for the rating upgrade on the City’s $43 million Airport revenue bonds:

  • “…improvement of financial metrics including debt service coverage and liquidity after a period of volatility in recent years.”
  • “…recent trend of enplanements, which turned positive in 2014 after several years of declines.”
  • “…fundamental strength of the City of Burlington economy and the low cost per enplanement that are expected to keep air travel demand at or above current levels.”
     

Moody’s suggested that the rating could further improve through sustained enplanement and revenue growth or from a significant liquidity increase.

“The team at BTV and the City of Burlington has worked incredibly hard to strengthen the Airport’s financial standing, and we are delighted that Moody’s has recognized our efforts,” said Director Richards.  “This is a new day for BTV, and we will continue to work hard and progress in the right direction.”

The history of the Airport’s revenue bonds ratings and outlooks follows:

Moody's Ratings

Date

Action

Rating

Action

Outlook

         

11/12/14

Upgraded to investment grade

Baa3

Affirmed

Stable

01/15/14

Affirmed

Ba1

Revised

Stable

11/19/12

Affirmed

Ba1

Affirmed

Negative

01/06/12

Affirmed

Ba1

Affirmed

Negative

10/13/10

Downgraded to junk bond status

Ba1

Affirmed

Negative

05/13/10

Downgraded 2 steps

Baa3

Revised

Negative

11/28/05

Affirmed

Baa1

Affirmed

Stable

 

The Moody’s Report also noted the following as strengths relevant to its actions:                

  • “Large education and health care presence in Burlington, low unemployment relative to the state and nation.”
  • “Diversity in airport revenues, including significant parking and concession revenues.”
  • “Diversified airline carrier mix and limited competition in the service area.”
     

*Please see Moody’s Investors Service Ratings Report here.

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/12/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

ADVISORY

November 10, 2014
Mayor’s Office Contact: 
Mike Kanarick
802.735.7962  

UVM General Information Contact:
Professor David Jenemann
802.999.8182

UVM Media Contact:
Jeff Wakefield
802.578.8830

Mayor Miro Weinberger, UVM Humanities Center, Community Members to Meet for Inaugural City-Wide Mayor’s Book Group Discussion

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, the University of Vermont Humanities Center, and the UVM Political Science Club invite the Burlington community, including UVM students and staff, to participate in the inaugural discussion of the Mayor’s Book Group on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The group will discuss An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, journalist Todd S. Purdum’s dramatic non-fiction account of the creation of U.S. Civil Rights Act.  

“The Mayor’s Book Group will explore thought-provoking ideas relevant to civic life, culture, and history,” said Mayor Weinberger. “This exciting partnership between the City and UVM’s Humanities Center is a great opportunity to enhance the social and cultural fabric of Burlington by bringing engaged citizens together for lively, respectful dialogue about big ideas and the joy of reading.”

The Mayor’s Book Group, a partnership between Mayor Weinberger and the UVM Humanities Center, will include interactive presentations by the Mayor, UVM faculty, and guests, followed by group discussions facilitated by scholars. The event will run from 5:00-6:30 pm at UVM’s Billings Library, North Lounge.

Mayor Weinberger announced An Idea Whose Time Has Come as the first selection on July 2, 2014, the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1964 legislation, which outlawed discrimination on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.

“The UVM Humanities Center works to build civic and intellectual communities by bringing people together to explore topics and ideas that impact today’s real-world issues,” said Professor David Jenemann, co-director of the Humanities Center. “We see the humanistic disciplines – with their skills in critical-thinking, historical perspective, persuasion, debate, and ethics – as essential to that engagement.”

“We are committed to dispelling the misperception that the humanities and arts have somehow lost their relevance,” added Professor Luis Vivanco, co-director of the Humanities Center. “The truth is, we need the humanities now more than ever to explore the big and enduring questions and dilemmas that face us, which are exactly the types of issue we plan to explore in the Mayor’s Book Group.”

To join the Mayor’s Book Group, participants can pick up their free book before the event at the Fletcher Free Library or UVM’s Old Mill building, Room A506. A limited number of books will be available at the event on a first-come, first-served basis. All are welcome to attend and enjoy this event even if you have not read the book. To join the conversation online, participants may post comments or questions before the event on the UVM Humanities Center Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #BTVUVMreads.

The Mayor’s Book Group will meet approximately three times per year. Learn more about the UVM Humanities Center’s new community programing efforts by visiting its website.

Event Details
What:                  Inaugural Meeting of the Mayor’s Book Group
When:                 Wednesday, November 12, 5:00-6:30 pm
Where:               UVM Billings Library, North Lounge
                             
48 University Place, Burlington

Founded in 1994, the UVM Humanities Center is a hub for more than 250 UVM faculty in the humanities and fine arts. It serves to connect these scholars – in disciplines ranging from history, languages, religious studies, and classics to philosophy, linguistics, music, art, theatre, film, and cultural anthropology – to the community, other scholars, and educational and funding opportunities.

The Mayor’s Book Group is one of several new efforts launched by the Center, which has been reinvigorated under new leadership. Mayor Weinberger will be joined at Wednesday’s City-wide discussion of an engaging account of a pivotal moment in American history by UVM professors Emily Bernard (English), Alec Ewald (Associate Dean of the Honors College), Luis Vivanco (Anthropology), and David Jenemann (Film and Television Studies), as well as Fletcher Free Library Director Rubi Simon and other special guests.

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/10/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962                 

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement on PSB Order Approving Settlement Agreement and Authorizing City to Take Action to Implement Settlement Agreement

“Today's unanimous decision by the Vermont Public Service Board, following months of careful review and analysis, is great news for the people of Burlington.  The PSB’s decision – both approving  the Settlement Agreement  that my Administration negotiated earlier this year and determining that all existing and ongoing violations of Burlington Telecom’s certificate of public good are resolved – moves the City another major step closer to putting the financial uncertainty caused by the mismanagement of BT fully behind us.  I want to thank the PSB for the care and due diligence the Board and staff brought to this process.  We now will move quickly to implement the Settlement Agreement.”

 

*PSB Order entered November 3, 2014 can be found here.

###

Press Release Date: 
11/03/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 31, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962  

Downtown Burlington Parking Changes Coming Nov. 1 
New Technology, Rates, Policies Geared Toward Improving Customer Experience, Sustaining Parking System;
City Seeks Input at Nov. 19 Public Forum

Burlington, VT – This Saturday, November 1, 2014, the City of Burlington will initiate the first phase of changes to the downtown parking system, including new credit card reading parking meters, improved garage facilities, new rates, and new hours of enforcement.  The changes have been designed to improve the customer experience and create a financially sustainable parking system.  The community is invited and encouraged to provide feedback to the City and its parking consultant teams on all aspects of additional downtown and residential City parking at a public forum on Wednesday, November 19 from 7:00-9:30 pm in City Hall’s Contois Auditorium.

“Improving the parking system will drive our economy forward,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “New technology, a more efficient customer experience, and more sustainable parking infrastructure complement our exciting downtown.  These changes represent a significant investment in our City’s transportation system and a sustainable, data-driven future.”

“Good parking policy is responding directly to what customers want,” said Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association, one of the initiative’s leaders.  “Burlington businesses have identified smart parking policy and well-maintained infrastructure as critical to the health of downtown. The number one complaint we’ve heard over the past year is lack of payment options – being able to use a credit card and pay for as much parking as needed will result in a better customer experience.  We are thankful to the City for partnering with the BBA on this important initiative.”

“We look forward to leveraging the data collected from our new smart meters to help guide future changes in rates and times of enforcement to reflect market demand,” said Chapin Spencer, Director of the Department of Public Works.  “We will continuously fine-tune our parking system to reach our goal of ensuring that parking spaces are available whenever and wherever Burlingtonians and our visitors are parking downtown.”

The changes come after more than one year of stakeholder meetings and significant data-gathering to support multiple ongoing parking studies.  Key parking meter elements of the November 1 changes include:

  • Smart meters in the downtown core (Cherry to Main Streets and Pine to South Winooski Streets) to accept credit/debit cards and closely track parking data, enabling further experimentation with rates and enforcement times based on market demand
  • Smart meter rate of $1.50/hour with no time limit
  • Smart meter enforcement until 10:00 pm from Monday to Saturday, encouraging increased turnover and greater availability of spaces in the downtown core during evening hours

 

Meter rates, enforcement hours, and technology outside the downtown core will remain the same as they are today, as follows:

  • Free parking less than a block away in any direction from the downtown core to continue after 6:00 pm
  • Downtown meter parking on Sundays and holidays to remain free

For more information about current parking meter rates, please visit DPW’s parking web page.

City-owned, downtown garage parking also has been and will continue to be improved:

  • Two-hour free program to remain in place at all City garages
  • Recent garage improvements include:
    • Pressure-washed stair towers
    • Safety painting on curb lines
    • Cleaning of all parking attendant booths and gate infrastructure
    • Graffiti removal
    • Elevator rehabilitation (College Street Garage)
    • Added overnight and holiday security (beginning by Thanksgiving holiday)
  • Marketplace Garage (on Winooski Avenue)
    •  Hourly rates to increase over current rates by $2.00/hour, with a daily maximum fee of $10.00
    • Automated lane that accepts credit cards or two-hour free tickets installed
  • Lakeview Garage (behind Hotel Vermont) and College Street Garage (behind the Hilton Hotel)
    • Hourly rates to increase over current rates by $1.00/hour, with a daily maximum fee of $8.00
  • Downtown garage parking on Sundays and holidays to remain free

Other elements of the new changes include:

  • Grace period of five minutes on every smart meter that runs out of time
  • Daily internal report identifying any broken meters, resulting in more efficient repair times
  • New wayfinding and signage being installed during the 2015 construction season to better direct people to available parking spaces
  • Upcoming significant investments in the parking garages to extend their functional life-spans and improve aesthetics and security

Parking ambassadors will be downtown on November 1 to assist parkers with questions about the changes.  For detailed information about the City’s parking initiatives, please visit the newly-launched website www.parkburlington.com.

The Downtown Parking Improvement Initiative is a collaboration between the Burlington Business Association, the Department of Public Works, the Community and Economic Development Office, and the Burlington Police Department, with planning and outreach support from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.  The Initiative is one of a series of ongoing studies, including studies on residential parking and downtown commuting, aimed at improving Burlington’s parking and transportation systems.  The studies are expected to be complete in spring 2015 and will guide further changes to the parking system. 

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact:

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
10/31/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 24, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962  

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement about School District Leadership

As Mayor, I am committed, above all, to the children in our community, as well as to our parents and our teachers.

I am frustrated and disappointed that the School Board and interim schools administration have not been able to come together and move forward during this challenging time.

This is unacceptable.  Burlingtonians will not tolerate this failure of leadership, which puts our children’s education at risk.

Within my authority as Mayor, I can offer no easy answers – the School Board is independently elected and selects our superintendent. 

Upon hearing today’s news, I immediately spoke with School Board Chair Patrick Halladay and State Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe to ensure that all appropriate actions are being taken to protect the children and parents who will be impacted by today’s announcement and resulting events.

Last spring, I offered to help the schools manage their leadership transition.  That offer was politely declined, but I will repeat it today.  We are part of a shared community, and the City is here to provide any reasonable assistance it can to the Board in accomplishing the immediate tasks before it:  recruiting and appointing an interim superintendent and selecting the next superintendent.

It is important that we act decisively, but not precipitously, in a way that moves our community forward.

Finally, I am very grateful to the teachers, principals, and staff in all our schools who have continued their excellent work with students this school year, despite the uncertainty at the top of the district.  The importance of that work cannot be understated – we are fortunate to have such committed and talented educators in our City.
 

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Press Release Date: 
10/24/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962  

Improvements to Burlington Wayfinding Approved by City Council
Signs Will Give Downtown District a Comprehensive, Consistent, Understandable Wayfinding System

Burlington, VT – At Monday night’s meeting, the City Council approved the Burlington Wayfinding Improvements project, which consists of the removal of existing signs and the fabrication and installation of approximately 100 new signs of different types throughout Burlington’s downtown district.  The signs and related infrastructure, long desired by many in the downtown, will be fabricated during the winter and installed next spring to give the downtown district a comprehensive, consistent, and readily understandable wayfinding system.

“I am excited that the long-anticipated effort to modernize and enhance our downtown signage to improve safety, access, and awareness of key downtown features is about to happen,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The wayfinding improvements will make our City more livable and inviting to all, for everything from simply parking your car to accessing our celebrated waterfront.”

“A great signage program is a hallmark of a great city,” said Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association.  “Burlington businesses have been asking for a new signage and wayfinding system. We are grateful to Mayor Weinberger and his Administration for making it happen.  This new system will make it easier for customers and visitors to find their way to amenities and parking.  The result will be less congestion in the downtown and a more welcoming city.”

PROJECT TIMELINE:

  • Preparation, materials sourcing, and sign fabrication:  October – March
  • Delivery of signs:  End of April – early May
  • Field activities – including removal of existing signs, preparation of individual sites for installation, foundations, final installation:  March – July 

Project completion is expected by July 2015.

PROJECT BENEFITS:

Once the project is completed, the wayfinding signs and information will allow residents and visitors alike to benefit from a comprehensive, consistent sign plan. The project includes the installation of pedestrian-scale wayfinding signs, various types of parking facility signs, and hairpin signs. Benefits from the project include:

  • Enabling efficient transport for drivers by providing directional signs to parking and popular destinations;
  • Encouraging walking and bicycle trips by providing directional signs for bicyclists and pedestrians;
  • Reducing traffic congestion and environmental impact caused by drivers circling or waiting for parking or directional information; and
  • Directing visitors to tourism, cultural, and recreational amenities.

 

For more information about the City’s grant-funded wayfinding project, please click here.

*Please see attached wayfinding graphics (image 1, image 2, image 3).

 

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Press Release Date: 
10/23/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 22, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962                 

City Attorney Letter to Uber

On October 21, 2014, City Attorney Eileen Blackwood sent the attached letter to Dave Barmore at Uber.

 

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Press Release Date: 
10/22/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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