FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement in Support of 2014 Pride Weekend in Burlington, VT

“Since the year after Stonewall in 1969, Pride Weekends have played a huge role in the transformation of America into a country that is more inclusive and accepting of LGBTQ people.  We are fortunate to have the tradition of Pride Weekend being continued in 2014 in Burlington.  I encourage Burlingtonians – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allies – to take part in the celebratory and community-building activities planned for this weekend and next in Burlington by our local organizations.  Whether you attend Outright Vermont’s 11th Annual Fire Truck Pull next Saturday (9/20) on Church Street or the Vermont Pride Festival and Parade on Sunday in Battery Park (9/14), you will send a message of support in solidarity with our entire community as we work towards greater equality and acceptance for everyone.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
09/13/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 8, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement in Response to City Council’s Unanimous Approval of Mediated Settlement Agreement Relating to Browns Court-Eagles Place Project

“I am pleased that, as a result of the mediation session between the City, Champlain College, and other parties, and tonight’s unanimous City Council action, there is now a broad consensus in favor of moving forward with a major, mixed use redevelopment of the Browns Court parking lot and Eagles Club site.  This settlement agreement represents a major step forward toward much-needed downtown housing, an easing of student housing pressure in existing neighborhoods, new property tax revenues for the City, and greater downtown vibrancy and economic opportunity.”

*Please see the following attached documents:

 

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Press Release Date: 
09/08/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

For Immediate Release

Sept. 5, 2014                                                                                      
Contact:  Mary Sullivan                                                                                                                         
                 802-865-7417

Burlington Electric Department Taking Steps to Correct Billing Errors and Implement Preventative Action Plan
Recent issues lead to in-depth, multi-part review of customer billing

Burlington, VT – Burlington Electric Department (BED) Interim General Manager Neale Lunderville was joined by Mayor Miro Weinberger today to announce the discovery by BED staff of significant over-billing errors involving two of BED’s large commercial customers, the City of Burlington and the University of Vermont, as well as an under-billing error involving the ECHO Center.  The discovery of these billing issues has led to a complete and thorough review of BED’s metering and billing processes to ensure that the issues are quickly addressed, corrections made, and preventative measures put in place for the future.   

“After a preliminary review of the issues, we believe this is a confined problem,” said Lunderville.  “However, we have an obligation to our customers to ensure that these are indeed isolated incidents. That is why we have taken the measures to conduct a complete review, with the assistance of outside experts, to examine all aspects of BED billing processes.”

BED already has conducted a review of residential and small commercial accounts, which make up the vast majority of the customers, and BED is pleased to report that no issues were found.  BED now is focused on its review of demand meters for large commercial and industrial customers, the area in which the two problems occurred.

“These errors were avoidable and should not have remained undetected for so many years – our customers should not have to worry about the accuracy of their bills,” said Mayor Weinberger.   “Once these issues came to light, BED acted quickly and decisively to diagnose the problems, correct the mistakes, initiate a review of all other accounts, and communicate a detailed explanation of the issues to our customers and the public.  I appreciate new interim General Manager Lunderville's leadership of this extensive response.  I have confidence that our team at BED will resolve these issues and put new systems in place to prevent similar problems in the future.  Additionally, I have directed the CAO’s Office to lead a review of all City billing systems and to focus on our invoice processing practices as part of our ongoing, broad effort to improve the City’s internal controls.”

The problems came to light when BED staff investigated what appeared to be irregularities between usage and billing with two accounts:  the City street lighting account and the combined UVM Rubenstein Lab and ECHO Center account.  BED has met with the impacted customers and agreed on appropriate corrective measures – including reimbursements where appropriate – and implemented additional controls to ensure that the problems are not repeated.  Further, BED has hired KPMG to provide independent, third-party assessment of BED billing practices and procedures, and to thoroughly analyze BED’s systems to look for weaknesses and offer recommendations.

“This situation is unfortunate, and there never is a good time to share this type of news,” Lunderville continued.  “I want to commend the team at BED and extend my appreciation to the affected customers for their understanding and cooperation as we work to remedy these issues. We are committed to a thorough and transparent review of our processes and will take all steps necessary to help prevent this sort of thing in the future.”

Please see City Attorney Memo and Interim GM Memo, both attached to this release.
 

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Press Release Date: 
09/05/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

Mayor Miro Weinberger and BED Announce Completion of City Purchase of Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility
City Now Sources Renewable Energy Equal to 100% of its Energy Needs;
Facility’s Stable Costs and Power Supply Diversification Contributed to Moody’s Outlook Improvement

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department (BED) officials today announced the completion of the City’s purchase of the Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility, the 7.4 megawatt plant located on the Winooski River.  At a news conference at the facility, John Warshow, one of Winooski One’s former owners, handed over the facility keys to Mayor Weinberger.  Burlington now owns or has contracts with renewable energy facilities sufficient to serve 100 percent of the City’s electricity needs.  Moody’s Investors Service improved BED’s outlook from stable to positive based, in part, on the facility’s stable costs and contribution to BED’s power supply diversification.

“For many years, the City has sought to own this renewable energy facility on the edge of Burlington, and last March nearly 80 percent of the voters endorsed that goal,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “It is exciting to announce today that we have achieved this long-standing goal that helps our City make progress both on our climate action plans and our financial stability efforts.  Owning and operating a hydroelectric plant that feeds directly into BED’s distribution system is an important step toward ensuring stable, low energy costs for our customers.”

The City has worked toward Winooski One ownership and authority over its renewable portfolio for many years. After filing competing applications with the federal government to build a hydroelectric generator at nearly identical locations on the Winooski River, BED and Winooski One’s previous owners entered into a contract in 1991, stipulating that Winooski One be built by private owners and BED receive an option to purchase the facility after March 31, 2013.  BED then worked with the Winooski One owners to complete a fair market value purchase.

The July 2014 Moody’s report includes the following summary explaining the outlook improvement:  “The outlook change to positive from stable reflects our belief that the department will continue to reduce its exposure to the power supply market through long term contracts and diversify the power supply portfolio through the acquisition of the Winooski hydro facility.  The outlook change also reflects our expectation of stable or improving debt service coverage ratios and other financial metrics.”

“This purchase is exciting not only because it is a clean, renewable source of power, but also because it increases our energy security by protecting us from variations of the market,” said Neale Lunderville, BED Interim General Manager. “Knowing that our electric rates will be affordable for years to come because of power like this is welcome news for the business owners and residents of Burlington.”

A $12 million bond was issued on August 27, 2014. The bond had received unanimous support from the Burlington Electric Commission, a unanimous vote from the Burlington City Council, and more than 79 percent approval from the voters of Burlington this past Town Meeting Day.

Ken Nolan, BED’s Manager of Power Resources, added, “During the time the bond is being paid off, Winooski One power will be very cost competitive with BED’s other market alternatives. After the 20-year bond is fully paid, Burlington ratepayers will continue to receive power for decades to come, and the only cost will be that of operating the plant.” 

BED currently sells Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) associated with its renewable resources as a rate stabilization strategy. The entity that purchases the RECs claims the renewability from these resources. While the City transitions to renewable energy, selling RECs is one way to help keep rates stable while supporting clean, green, local power for the future.
 

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Press Release Date: 
09/04/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 26, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.735.7962
                 
Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement in Response to Issuance of Champlain Parkway Act 250 Permit by District #4 Environmental Commission

“Yesterday’s issuance of the Act 250 permit by the District Commission is a significant milestone in our effort to complete the Champlain Parkway, add to the vibrancy of the South End and downtown, and improve Pine Street for bikes, pedestrians, and cars.  While this is the first time the City has secured the land use permits it needs to construct the long-delayed project, as with any large, complex transportation project, much work remains from this point until the day we can break ground.  We will continue our steady and focused push toward that day.  We appreciate our strong working relationship with the State of Vermont and, in particular, with the Agency of Transportation – its assistance was invaluable throughout the permitting process.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
08/26/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 19, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.735.7962

City of Burlington Leads the Way with Launch of Employee Bikeshare Program
Encouraging Employee Wellness and Reducing City’s Carbon Footprint

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today launched the City Green Employee Bikeshare Program, now available to all City of Burlington employees. The program was fully funded by a wellness grant from the City’s health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont (BCBSVT), as part of BCBSVT’s efforts to reduce healthcare costs by encouraging active, healthy employee lifestyles. The City’s Wellness Committee organized the bikeshare program. The program, currently with a fleet of 15 bicycles, allows all employees to use bicycles for work-related and recreational use during the workday. Employee bikesharing encourages physical activity and employee wellness, reduces the City’s carbon footprint, frees up downtown parking for shoppers and visitors, and is typically faster than a car or bus for short trips.

After a ride from City Hall to the City’s 645 Pine Street facility with approximately 20 City colleagues on the new fleet of City bikes and some on personal bikes, Mayor Miro Weinberger stated:  “I am pleased to kick-off the City’s new bikeshare program and to encourage employees to bike to and from meetings and appointments, or to enjoy a bike path ride on their lunch break.  We continue to make steady progress towards our vision of an active and vibrant City, and offering a bikeshare program to employees that helps reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road is a step forward.”

The City of Burlington’s Climate Action Plan, originally written in 2000 and recently updated and re-adopted as part of the Municipal Development Plan in 2014, notes the impact of the transportation sector, specifically employee commuting, in Burlington’s greenhouse gas emissions portfolio. To help lower this impact and meet Burlington’s goal of halting emission increases and bringing down 2016 emissions to 2010 levels, the Climate Action Plan calls for reducing vehicle miles travelled within the community and among government operations, including staff commuting.  This bikeshare program – as well as the City’s current efforts around parking and transportation demand management – is an important step in reaching this important goal.

The City of Burlington celebrated the launch of the Employee Bikeshare Program with a lunchtime open house for all employees at the 645 Pine Street facility, which houses the Departments of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, Code Enforcement, and Public Works. The event began with a group ride from City Hall to 645 Pine Street, and the open house was planned with the following City partners: BCBSVT, Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA), Local Motion, CarShare Vermont, Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA), and Go! Vermont. The bike fleet was located on-site for education and test ride opportunities, as well as information about the program regarding booking, locations, equipment, and rules.   

For more program details, please see the attached information and visit www.burlingtonvt.gov/hr/ridebikes.

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Press Release Date: 
08/19/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.735.7962

Governor Peter Shumlin and Mayor Miro Weinberger Celebrate Installation of EV Charging Stations in Burlington Parking Garages
Improving Customer Convenience and Making EVs More Attractive Option

Burlington, VT – Governor Peter Shumlin, Mayor Miro Weinberger, Burlington Electric Department Interim General Manager Neale Lunderville, and other stakeholders today celebrated the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in both the Marketplace and Lakeview Garages in Burlington. These state-of-the-art EV fueling pumps will improve customer convenience and make electric vehicles a more attractive option for Burlington residents.

“I am thrilled to see these charging stations in downtown Burlington,” said Governor Shumlin. “Our grant program demonstrates Vermont’s commitment to supporting electric vehicles. To grow our statewide EV stock, it is important that Burlingtonians and visitors to our communities have charging locations available in town. Installing charging stations in convenient areas is a major step forward.”

“As our transportation sector continues the transformation from fossil fuels to electricity, Burlington is pleased to be at the forefront of installing these charging stations,” said Mayor Weinberger. “We are supporting a new clean industry and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These EV charging stations will help keep our downtown vibrant, as residents and visitors can recharge while dining, shopping, and doing business in Burlington.”

The EV fueling pump in the Marketplace Garage is a Level 3 charging station, complete with the fastest charging time of any commercially-available station on the market today. In the Lakeview Garage, two Level 2 dual-port stations have been installed. These three charging stations were partially funded through the 2014 Downtown Electric Vehicle Charging Station grant program, co-sponsored by the Downtown Program of the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development and the Air Quality and Climate Division of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Through this program, 13 charging stations were funded in six of Vermont’s Designated Downtowns.

Along with these two new downtown stations, Burlington has a number of other public charging stations, including a Level 3 charger located next to BED, and several Level 2 chargers – one dual-port at BED, and one at the intersection of Church and Main Streets in front of the Chittenden County Courthouse. Other stations in downtown Burlington, located at City Market and Main Street Landing, are privately-owned and available for public use.

“As the publicly-owned utility in Burlington, BED is excited to be on the cutting edge of energy innovation,” said BED Interim GM Lunderville. “These new charging stations will improve customer convenience and make electric vehicles an even more attractive option for Burlington residents. As more people turn to electricity for transportation, we plan to continue to promote this service.”

Karen Glitman, Director of Transportation Efficiency at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and a frequent EV charging pump user in Burlington, also attended today’s event. “These new charging stations put Burlington on the map as an EV destination. The stations are good for the environment and the economy, as they encourage economic activity and leave behind cleaner air and less noise,” said Glitman.

The City selected the Marketplace Garage because of its location in the heart of the Church Street Marketplace retail district and its designation as Burlington’s busiest parking facility. The City selected the Lakeview Garage, located near two major hotels, for its proximity to both the City’s commercial core and the waterfront, helping bridge these two popular attractions. Aided by a contribution from Nissan Motor Corporation, the Marketplace Garage’s Level 3 “fast charger” will charge all-electric vehicles within 30 minutes, the duration of typical parking stays in this facility. Level 3 pumps generally recharge in less than one hour, and Level 2 pumps recharge in approximately two hours. The volume of charging is steadily increasing at these and all of the facilities connected to BED’s Chargepoint network.

The full list of awards for the State’s 2014 Downtown Electric Vehicle Charging Station grant program is as follows:

  • Barre – $30,000 for Level 2 chargers in two locations
  • Bennington – $22,000 for Level 2 chargers in two locations
  • Burlington –$30,000 for two Level 2 chargers and one Level 3 charger
  • Middlebury – $29,287 for Level 2 chargers in two locations
  • Morristown – $10,098 for Level 2 chargers in two locations
  • St. Albans – $6,625 for Level 2 chargers in two locations

 

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Press Release Date: 
08/06/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 5, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.735.7962

City Breaks Ground on Major Redevelopment of Northern Waterfront
Waterfront Access North Represents First Major New Waterfront Public Infrastructure Investment in 20 Years; Lays Foundation for Future Projects

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today was joined by Senator Patrick Leahy, Commissioner Noelle MacKay of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, other State and City officials, waterfront stakeholders, and community members for the Waterfront Access North (WAN) project ground-breaking event.  WAN represents the first major new waterfront public infrastructure investment since the creation of Waterfront Park in the early 1990s.  The project includes the following key improvements:

  • Realigning, widening, and rebuilding the currently decayed and disjointed section of the Burlington bike path immediately north of Waterfront Park to better accommodate path users and other activities on the northern waterfront;
  • Creating a new, world-class skatepark;
  • Remediating environmental issues related to the site’s historic industrial use;
  • Undergrounding overhead power lines; and
  • Implementing stormwater measures to protect Lake Champlain.

In addition, by extending Lake Street and building other road, sidewalk, and utilities infrastructure, WAN enables the future construction of the voter-approved Public Investment Action Plan projects – a new Community Sailing Center facility, New Moran, and the Burlington Harbor Marina.  The Lake Street extension also will enhance public access to the Urban Reserve and any future uses of that City land.

“On Town Meeting Day, Burlingtonians voted overwhelmingly for progress and investment in the long-neglected northern waterfront,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “They voted for a day when our children will bike, skate, and sail here, when residents and visitors will come to the northern waterfront to enjoy the lake and revel in the beauty of this place, and when the Moran building sits abandoned no more.  Today, after many years of planning for and dreaming of that day, we begin in earnest to build it.”

“As Vermonters know, I consider Lake Champlain as the sixth and best ‘great lake,’” stated Senator Leahy.  “The transformation of the Burlington waterfront from post-industrial wasteland to a beloved, modern waterfront has been some of the most satisfying work of my Senate career.  I am thrilled to be here today as the City takes another step forward in this historic effort.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, who was unable to attend the ground-breaking, shared the following thoughts:  “I am very pleased that the City is taking the next step in a thirty-year process to reclaim Burlington’s waterfront for the people of Vermont, a process that I am proud began while I was Mayor of Burlington.  We have come a very long way since then – when this whole area was filled with oil tanks and rail yards and abandoned buildings.  I am also very pleased that federal stimulus funds are paying for a large share of this project.  That federal effort is still paying dividends, upgrading infrastructure and creating jobs right here in Vermont.”

Congressman Peter Welch, who also was unable to attend the event, stated:  “Congratulations to Mayor Weinberger and the citizens of Burlington for another important milestone in the development of the City’s waterfront.  These infrastructure improvements are good news for bike path users, skaters, and sailors and will help the City realize its vision of access for all to the Lake Champlain waterfront.”

“A healthy lake and vital waterfront area are critical to Burlington’s economy and quality of life,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner, Noelle MacKay, who represented Governor Peter Shumlin at the ground-breaking.  “The Downtown Board is pleased to support Burlington’s ongoing work to both expand waterfront recreational opportunities and limit stormwater runoff.”

WAN represents a $9.1 million investment in Burlington’s waterfront.  More than 20 different funding sources large and small, including contributions from Burton Snowboards and individual community members toward the skatepark, make up the total project funding sources. 

“Burton is deeply committed to the City of Burlington and to youth in Vermont,” said Jake Burton, Founder and Chairman of Burton Snowboards.  “We are proud to be able to support the Burlington Skatepark Project and thrilled to get involved with the City’s work to support the standing sideways lifestyle in our community.”

Of the $9.1 million, $3.9 million comes from tax increment financing (TIF) funds, voted for by Burlingtonians in 2012 and 2014 and generated from waterfront TIF district revenues.  Approximately $4 million of the project will be paid for by federal funding sources, supported by the members of Vermont’s federal delegation.  Only $288,000, or 3.16 percent of the project, will be paid for by non-TIF, local property taxes.  For more information regarding the WAN budget, please see the attached summary.

SD Ireland Companies, the WAN project general contractor, has mobilized its crews and equipment this week.  Work on the project begins now and, including a planned winter shutdown of several months typical of site work construction, WAN construction has a projected completion date by the end of calendar year 2015.

Weinberger was joined at the announcement by the following community leaders:

  • Trina Zide, Co-Owner of Maven Skate Shop and skatepark advocate – “Two years ago, we gathered near the old skatepark, and I let the Mayor know that the skateboard community was thrilled to have a new Mayor who cares about us and understands the importance of providing a world-class and safe skatepark as part of his waterfront development plans.  And here we are today, having worked closely with the Mayor and his dedicated team to make this vision a reality, breaking ground on an important Burlington project that includes building a top-notch, new skatepark.”
  • Mark Naud, Executive Director of Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center –“The Community Sailing Center is excited to be part of the first significant public access investment in the Burlington Waterfront since the Boathouse and Waterfront Park and Promenade in the early 90s.  Public use of the Sailing Center’s resources has grown exponentially over the last decade, and this initiative will allow us to adequately accommodate current demand, as well as create capacity for continued growth.  Waterfront Access North will literally pave the way for the Center’s programs in a new Community Waterfront Facility that assures public access, education, and recreation on Lake Champlain for generations to come.”
  • Kelly Devine, Executive Director of Burlington Business Association – “Burlington’s waterfront on Lake Champlain is one of our community’s most precious and amazing resources.  The Burlington business community has been looking forward to the launch of this next stage of the City’s waterfront investment.  The Waterfront Access North project addresses two key concerns of our waterfront business community:  improvement to the Burlington bike path and environmental measures to care for our lake.  We eagerly await the day we look north and see a new face for the Burlington waterfront.  A better waterfront makes Burlington an even better place to live, work, and play.”
  • Kurt Wright, Ward 4 City Councilor and Chair of City Council’s Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee (PACC) – “From my perspectives as a New North End resident, as Chair of the Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee, and as a state representative who believes in the positive impact of an effective state TIF policy, I am thrilled that this project is moving forward after all these years and confident that our new northern waterfront will deliver wonderful community amenities and serve as an economic engine for Burlington.  I am particularly excited about the plans to realign and rebuild the bike path through the project area and look forward to our continued plans to rebuild the entire bike path.  Also, these waterfront improvements will lead to job creation, generate important municipal and state revenues, and ensure that taxpayers are protected.”
  • Karen Paul, Ward 6 City Councilor and past PACC Chair – “As we celebrate Waterfront Access North and all it brings for our immediate future, I also am excited for the opportunities this new infrastructure will open up for the next frontier.  As we move north, we will continue to look for creative, socially and generationally inclusive, and forward-thinking ways to celebrate and protect the beauty and integrity of our waterfront, to bring economic development to our City, and to further enhance the four season appeal of Lake Champlain and our waterfront.  As a result of much hard work by many in City government, which included reaching out to private sources, attracting federal dollars, and harnessing every revenue source imaginable, we have created a funding package that makes good sense and brings the City's contribution to three percent of the overall $9 million project.”

 

Please see the following documents, including:

Press Release Date: 
08/05/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 31, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.865.7272                 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement about Death of JJ Hamilton, Former BTV Aviation Director

“On behalf of the City of Burlington, I express my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of JJ Hamilton.  I had the opportunity to work with JJ during the early years of my service on the Airport Commission and appreciated JJ's steadiness and good will as he led the airport through a period of remarkable growth.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
07/31/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 31, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                802.735.7962 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement in Response to Champlain Parkway Decision

“The City is very pleased with the Court's decision that the Champlain Parkway complies with Act 250 and that we are now another step closer to its construction.  The Parkway is a long-planned transportation infrastructure project that will support the dynamic growth in Burlington's South End and Downtown.  The Court’s requirement to monitor the intersection of the Parkway and Lakeside Avenue is reasonable and consistent with the City’s intent to optimize the operation of that key intersection.  My Administration will continue to work aggressively to get the long-delayed Parkway built.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
07/31/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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