Sail Away with the BBA : 2021 Summer Social

 

The BBA is back with in-person events programming! 

Celebrate the reopening of Burlington as you enjoy a beautiful summer evening on the Spirit of Ethan Allen III.

Join the BBA aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III for snacks, drinks and networking with BBA Members and friends, all while soaking in beautiful views of Lake Champlain. We can’t wait to see you! It’s been too long. 

Sail Away with the BBA!

2021 Summer Social

Thursday, July 29th

Ticket Prices for Members $25, Non-Members $35

Aboard The Spirit of Ethan Allen III

 

Boarding will begin at 3:45. The boat will leave at 4pm sharp!

Limited tickets will be available at the door. Register ahead for 2x the chance at door prizes.

 

Cash Bar. Light Appetizers Provided. Door Prizes.

  

REGISTER TODAY

Special Thanks to Our Host & Sponsor

Please note: accessibility is limited, please contact boat staff directly at (802) 862-8300 to learn more. 

For more information or registration assistance contact Event Coordinator Kate Healy – [email protected]

 

Don’t Miss Out: Quick Tips to Make the Most of the Summer of Reopening

As COVID restrictions continue to ease and visitors return to the region it is increasingly important to keep an up to date digital presence and leverage unique opportunities available to businesses. Check out the links below to help ensure you’re ready for “Hot Vax Summer”.

 

Google My Business

Google My Business is the most critical digital space to have your business operations up to date. If you haven’t claimed your business in Google or haven’t updated the hours it’s the digital equivalent of having a closed sign up in your window. Check out the BBA’s Guide to Google My Business and reach out to [email protected] with questions.  

 

VermontVacation.com Calendar and Directory

Add your event to the event submission form and make sure your business is listed on the trip planning directory by signing up. Events and business listings must be tourism-related and appropriate for out of state visitors.

 

UVM Staycation Campaign

UVM wants to partner with you to stimulate local economic activity by offering incentives for UVM employees to explore and enjoy the very best that Vermont-based businesses have to offer. See the details and benefits for partners HERE and Register to be a Partner.

 

Love Burlington

Make sure you are listed on loveburlington.org and the information is up to date. Check out this How-To Guide. You can also submit an event to the Love Burlington Calendar.  

 

Marketing Vaccination Incentives

Is your business offering incentives or discounts to those who are fully vaccinated? Submit any incentives you may be offering and the State will promote those offers through the ThinkVermont website.

 

Vaccine Clinics at Your Business

Did you know you can request the Department of Health to come to your businesses for a pop-up vaccine clinic? A pop-up clinic could create a unique marketing opportunity for your business. Businesses and organizations interested in creating pop-up clinics for their employees or customers or in having a vaccination booth at an upcoming event can submit information through the Vaccine Clinic Request form. 

 

Economic Recovery Bridge Program

The Economic Recovery Bridge Program application portal is now open. The program is expected to deliver $30 million in financial relief to businesses who have not received state and federal funding due to eligibility constraints.

 

Understanding Burlington’s Citywide Reappraisal: What it means for you and your business

Burlington sees 52% increase in total commercial appraisal values

 

*This page will be updated as more data becomes available and we releases further analysis on the impacts of the reappraisal to businesses.

On April 8th the City of Burlington published property reappraisal data to conclude the two year long citywide reevaluation with consultant Tyler Technologies. The city’s stated goal of reappraisal is to value all properties at 100% of their current fair market value This is the first city-wide reappraisal since 2005 and some parcels will see a significant increase in appraised value. 



# of ParcelsBeforeAfterChange
Grand List Total10399$3,735,263,626$5,927,947,364 58.70%
Commercial Only Total 585$691,543,651$1,050,521,33451.91%

The City’s Charter mandates that reappraisal will be revenue neutral, meaning some property owners will owe more and some will owe less. This is achieved through a decrease in the municipal rate. The tax rate for FY22 has not yet been determined. 

Reappraisal Links

*4/26/21 UPDATE: Reappraisal FAQs and Impact Tool:

The city has published a Reappraisal FAQs page and an Impact Tool that will help property owners estimate the impact on your tax bill. The city estimates the new municipal rate will be 0.6383. In June the final tax rates will be set by the state (education tax) and city (municipal tax) for FY22.

Read more about the Reappraisal here:  https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/assessor/reappraisal

Look up your property value here:  https://property.burlingtonvt.gov/

View the Grand List of all parcels for FY22 here:  https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Assessor/Grand-List

 

Property Valuation Appeal

Property owners may appeal the new valuation but only have until April 30, 2021 by 4:00 PM to do so. You can file an appeal or find more information about the appeal process here:

https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Assessor/Property-Appeal-Procedures

  • Start an Appeal Online Here
  • After submitting your information, you must call Tyler Technologies at 1-877-895-9675 to schedule a Board of Assessor (BOA) property valuation hearing date and time. Hearings will be held virtually via Zoom. The hearings take about 10 minutes; please be prepared to highlight the reasons for your appeal, such as a recent appraisal, and be prepared to provide helpful information relating to the valuation of your property. 
  • You may experience hold times of ~10 minutes. If your hold time is significantly beyond that or you are unable to schedule your hearing please let us know: [email protected]

 

Impact on DID Fees

*On 4/21/21 the Church Street Marketplace Commission voted to set the rate of the DID at $.01 for FY22. Next, the City Council will vote to approve this rate. 

The reappraisal will have an impact on DID Fees for non-residential properties within the Downtown Improvement District. The DID fee is calculated off of appraised value. It appears as a separate line item on your tax bill or is passed on to you as a tenant via triple net. With appraised values mostly increasing the DID rate would need to be decreased to be level-funded with last year. A vote on this will take place at the Church Street Marketplace Commission on April 21. 

A BBA analysis estimated that the average DID paying parcel’s appraised value went up 53%. Even if the commission were to vote to level fund the DID it is important to note that most businesses would still pay more in DID fees because there are expected to be fewer fee paying parcels. in FY22 and a few very large fee payers saw decreases in their reappraisal. 

The BBA will be reaching out to DID fee payers and impacted businesses in the coming days to ensure you are aware of the opportunity to weigh in on the question of whether or not the tax delivers value and at what level it should be funded this year. 

 

DID Quick Facts:

  • Only downtown & waterfront area businesses pay this tax – DID MAP
  • It is written in the City Charter that it must be used for a 2 hr Free parking Program.
    • This year 2hr Free Parking ended in one downtown garage
  • It is capped at $0.12 and calculated based on your properties assessed value (appraisal + 20%)
    • The BBA successfully advocated to have this rate reduced by 50% in 2020 in response to the pandemic.
  • The tax, once collected, is sent to the Department of Public Works Parking & Traffic Department.
  • For the past 5 years the BBA has worked in collaboration with DPW to deliver special programs and services with a portion of these funds. That program ends on June 30, 2020. You can learn more about this partnership at parkburlington.com.

Impact on Business Personal Property (Asset) Tax

Because the BPP Tax is taxed at the municipal rate, it is expected the municipal rate decrease will lead to savings for BPP taxpayers. A 2018 study by the city found that this will result in an estimated savings of $172 per $100k assets or $268,000 total to taxpayers. 

In 2019 the BBA successfully advocated for a charter change that created a true exemption for businesses with less than $45k in assets and a mandated phase-out of the tax by 2026. 

More info on the BPPT can be found at the links below:

BBA Fact Sheet: Asset Tax

https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Assessor/Business-Personal-Property-Tax

Have questions about DID fees or Business Personal Property Tax? Drop us a line: [email protected]

 

BBA Welcomes Two New Members to the Board of Directors

The Burlington Businesses Association (BBA) is pleased to announce the addition of two members to the Board of Directors: Michele Asch and Christian Kuzia. 

RELEASE: BBA Welcomes Two New Board Members

Michele Asch is the VP of Leadership & Organizational Development within her family business, Twincraft Skincare. Twincraft Skincare is a custom contract manufacturer of specialty bar soap and skincare products for over 150 brands throughout North America. Michele has a diverse background which includes 14 years at the University of Vermont. The first 10 years she was responsible for leadership development and service learning programs for students. She then moved on to the UVM School of Business and, as the Director of the UVM Family Business Program, she assisted Vermont family businesses with their succession planning. Thriving on the creativity found in entrepreneurship, she founded and sold two small businesses, a sea kayak adventure travel business and a men’s salon.  Michele is committed to serving our community. She currently serves on the Let’s Grow Kids Board of Directors and the ECHO Science Center Board of Directors. She recently ended a 3 year appointment as Chairperson of the Burlington Police Commission. Michele also served as Chair of Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation where she was a board member for 7 years. Michele graduated from the UVM School of Business in 1988. 

 

Christian Kuzia works for Westport Hospitality, and is the general manager of the Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel. Born and raised in Vermont, Christian has held multiple positions within the hospitality and restaurant industry over the past 20 years. He is a graduate of the food and beverage management program from the New England Culinary Institute, and began his career with Westport overseeing the food and beverage operation at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor. He has also managed Westport’s extended stay property, the TownePlace Suites by Marriott, in Williston. Christian has previously served on the board of directors for the Vermont Convention Bureau, The Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and is currently a board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont. Christian resides in Colchester with his wife Jodi and their two sons, Caleb and Camden. 

“We are so excited to have Michele and Christian join the Board of Directors,” said Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the BBA. “The insight and perspective they bring from two industries critical to Burlington’s economy will be especially valuable as we come out of the pandemic.”

Park Burlington Launches New Interactive Parking Map in Partnership with Burlington Code Academy

Park Burlington, a public-private partnership between Burlington Business Association and the Department of Public Works, announces the release of a new interactive parking map covering downtown Burlington. The map was created by Lauren Grimley, Lee Peters, Jon Russell, and Michael Muzzy, as a capstone project at Burlington Code Academy.

“Burlington isn’t Boston or Montreal, but parking can still be a pinch point for visitors,”
said Alex Bunten, special projects manager at the Burlington Business Association. “Our goal with this map was to make parking downtown as transparent as possible so people know what to expect.”

The interactive map shows over 7,500 publicly-accessible parking spaces in downtown Burlington. Prices range from less than a $1 for many on-street spaces to about $1 per hour at municipal lots and garages and $4 per hour at privately-owned facilities.

New map features include: 

  • Destination search and walk circle – type in your destination and quickly see parking options within a short walk radius.
  • Incorporated Google Street view – users can get a “virtual” view of the street.
  • Easy navigation to any parking type – get directions from your current location to any parking facility listed in the map.
  • Filtered parking types – need short term parking? All day parking? Easily filter your options from inside the map. 
  • Responsive – easy to use on any device, mobile or desktop.

“This map is part of a long-term effort to improve customer service and the parking experience downtown,” said Jeff Padgett, division director for parking and traffic at the Department of Public Works. “The map has always been a popular feature on ParkBurlington.com and for good reason – it helps direct locals and visitors alike straight to parking that is convenient for them.”  

Every Burlington Code Academy cohort pairs a group of their soon-to-graduate students with a local organization that has a coding conundrum. In 2020, the BBA was chosen as a community partner to create a new parking map. After graduation Michael Muzzy continued to work with BBA to finalize the map. The design and structure were informed by the many years of community feedback from the original 2017 map.

“We could only do so much in the time we had,” said Bunten, “but I was continually impressed by the team’s willingness to dig in and solve any design or functionality issue that came up.  And I really appreciate Michael sticking with the project to the end. He’s been nothing but professional and responsive through the whole process. I highly recommend local organizations work with Burlington Code Academy on these community projects. It’s win-win for all.”

Areas discussed for future development include: expanding the coverage to all of Burlington, including parking zones for Operation Clean Sweep and Winter Parking Bans, mapping points of interest, listing all unrestricted parking (free) and many others. 

According to Burlington Code Academy chief operations officer, Alex Horner, this is among a growing number of student projects to be fully implemented after a cohort graduates. The first was the Green Up Day app, which enabled administrators to see real-time data of waste collection efforts.

“Having students work with real organizations as their capstone project gives them the practical, hands-on experience that companies seek in applicants when hiring new team members,” said Horner. “The students get to experience working in a software development team – managing responsibilities, meeting project goals – and as a result, they produce a solid addition to be featured in their portfolios.  For the organizations we partner with, they get the opportunity work with a group of talented developers, and produce something that benefits their local community.”  

“Working with Lauren, Lee, and Jon supported by BCA’s top-shelf instructors was immersive, educational, and fun,” said Muzzy. “It has been a pleasure to work with BBA and motivating to work on something that benefits the community I love and grew up in.”

 

###

Park Burlington is a city council-approved public/ private partnership between the Department of Public Works and the Burlington Business Association which involves many community partners and stakeholders. Its mission is to improve the parking and transportation dynamics in Burlington, Vermont.

Burlington Code Academy teaches adults the skills they need to start a career in coding and user experience (UX) design in 12 weeks. Founded in 2017 by Benny Boas and Alex Horner, Burlington Code Academy was born out of a shared vision: to create an accessible technology school that always gives students a return on their investment. The school has since earned a reputation as a leading center for career transformation and technology education. BCA’s award winning education programs emphasize teamwork, career-readiness and the importance of collaborative learning.

Questions?

Contact Alex Bunten

[email protected]

802 488 4681

2021 Burlington City Council BBA Voter Guide

The Burlington Business Association (BBA) has published a Burlington City Council Voter Guide for the 2021 Town Meeting Day  Elections. The Voter Guide focuses on issues of concern to the members of the BBA and has been distributed digitally to BBA members, the candidates, and the news media. 

This voter guide’s 4 questions focus on economic vitality, working with the business community, and transportation choice.  All candidates for City Council have been afforded the opportunity to respond. The BBA does not make political endorsements

This Voter Guide is made possible by the financial support of AARP Vermont.

*Candidate responses on the voter guide have been edited for brevity and formating. Voters are encouraged to view candidates’ unabridged responses below. 

 

North District – BBA City Council Voter Guide


Central District – BBA City Council Voter Guide


South District – BBA City Council Voter Guide


 

Economic Vitality

HULA Lakeside, The Burton Hub Project, and Cambrian Rise are all examples of adaptive reuse of underutilized industrial/institutional space. Have you or do you support these specific projects? Do you believe in this type of economic development? If not, please explain why not, and please provide an alternative. 

 

North District 

Mark Barlow (Independent): “Yes, I enthusiastically support all of these projects.  I would add CityPlace to the list because I also see that project as an adaptive reuse of the underutilized mall space.   In all cases they add opportunities and value in Burlington that were not there before those projects were planned.   With the limited undeveloped space in Burlington, adaptive reuse makes good sense. To me the HULA Lakeside and Burton Hub Projects are exciting because they are bringing business to Burlington.  In recent decades it seems we have seen more businesses leave Burlington than locate here, citing higher costs and other challenges of operating here. We are still suffering the effects of those losses as we work to redevelop our downtown.   So any opportunity we have to bring new business into the city is a win. Cambrian Rise and CityPlace are adding much needed housing to the city.  Our affordability crisis is caused in part by the availability of housing in Burlington and these projects are adding hundreds of new units, including many affordably priced now. The additional people living in those projects also means more economic activity at businesses and restaurants.  One caveat to my enthusiasm for Cambrian Rise is the unfortunate loss of some of the open space that was enjoyed by the community,  but I do think that the plan that emerged —  making the property economically viable by building housing while conserving some open space as city park land with increased bike path connectivity — was a pragmatic and reasonable compromise.”

Kienan Christianson (Democratic/Progressive): “Yes. I was on the Development Review Board and heard many of these projects.  I think infill development is important because it allows us to build more densely, allowing for more green space and reducing overall carbon emissions. I do want to specifically highlight Burton as the type of project I like to support.  Burton was sensitive to how its project could impact the local neighborhood and worked hard to solicit input from neighbors and get them involved in the process. Burton addressed the neighbors’ concerns, made changes to the project to reduce noise and traffic flow, and regularly attended the NPA to ensure it was meeting and exceeding neighbors’ expectations.  While there was still some resistance to the project, I liked that Burton went out of their way to involve the community and bring them into the process. I would like to see more projects do this and commend Burton for the effort they put into involving the community.”

 

South District 

Joan Shannon (Democratic- Incumbent): “Yes, but my support is not unequivocal.  In each case, I also have concerns.  I love the Hula project, but have emphasized the developers need to be cognizant of how their parking demands will impact neighbors, if the demand is not met onsite.  I appreciate the vision of the Burton Hub Project, but do not believe using this site for a regional entertainment venue is consistent with our Municipal Plan.  I fully support Cambrian Rise and believe that the 12 acres of publicly accessible land in exchange for more development, closer to the street is a great example of providing public benefits through private development.”

 

Central District

Tiki Archambeau (Independent): “The projects mentioned are viewed more as in-fill developments than adaptive reuse, though the two are not entirely disconnected. There is a lot to like about these projects. They show economic vitality, opportunity, and hope. I will admit to holding concerns over conflicts in infrastructure. For instance, Cambrian Rise was an ideal opportunity to avoid yet another traffic light and install a roundabout. Alas, we will soon have a traffic light at that location. (It’s worth noting the exceptional efforts made by the developer to accommodate the transecting bike lane that passes the property on North Ave.) The Burton Hub Project is exciting, yet is heavily contested by neighbors who highlight a lack of accommodating infrastructure in the area due to its industrial zoning. I would like to see each of these projects succeed with buy-in from the community at-large. There will never be unanimity, but we also would agree that endless lawsuits are not in anyone’s best interests. If there is one areas I would like to see addressed in future mixed-use projects, it’s opportunities for entry-level home ownership. Condos priced for starting buyers would benefit Burlington by expanding the tax base and reducing the enormous percentage of renters, who are currently a majority of voters and vote accordingly. Entry-level homes/condos are not the biggest money-makers, but will serve Burlington’s best long-term interests.”

Peggy Luhrs (Independent): “I have not been thrilled with the lack of consideration for green building in most of these projects. I do think we should look to reuse industrial spaces. There are malls sitting empty in Burlington that could be turned to housing or small shops for local businesses, artists and craftspeople. We need to rethink most of what we are doing because our future is not going to be like our past. it will be more challenging and we need to be more innovative and creative to meet those challenges from climate chaos and economic breakdowns.”

 

Pandemic Response

If elected, what specific actions would you take to help small businesses, especially retail and restaurants, survive and recover from the pandemic?

 

North District

Barlow: “I am a small business owner and understand the unprecedented challenges many businesses are facing.  The impact is especially acute for retail and restaurants, many of which are on life support right now and face a long road ahead as we emerge from the pandemic.  We should prioritize support for our business community during this difficult time, through both action and policy. During the pandemic and in the aftermath it is incumbent upon city government to ensure we have adequate business support in place through the Resource and Recovery Center (RRC),  our Community Economic Development Office  (CEDO), the State of Vermont, and other community partners.  Direct aid through grants or loans should be prioritized based on need and equity criteria.   We should continue to think creatively and expand the opportunities for outdoor dining and retail in Burlington, even while the pandemic winds down.  The City should help lead on marketing and promotional effort to encourage local shopping and dining.  Finally, Burlington shouldn’t be imposing new fees or taxes on businesses during the duration of the recovery.”

Christianson: “First, I would work to secure significant funds from the Vermont Legislature to help businesses bridge the gap.  The federal government is working towards a significant stimulus package, and if I am on city council, I will work hard to obtain these funds and get them to local businesses as quickly as possible. Second, I will work to help our local business transition to an online setting and retail platform so that if in-person dining and shopping becomes unsafe, our local businesses can operate online.  Third, I will work hard to push out the vaccine as quickly as possible to eligible Burlingtonians.  The sooner we get our neighbors fully-vaccinated, the sooner we can begin re-opening.”

 

South District

Shannon: “Its hard to know how to help, but I am committed to doing what I can, being responsive to requests and reminding the public to support our local businesses!”

 

Central District

Archambeau: “One action I already undertook was on the Public Works Commission. We granted the Director of Public Works emergency powers to eliminate parking in downtown areas where customers could more easily pick up items from restaurants or stores. We recognized the need to accommodate the intensely negative impacts of the pandemic on businesses.

Going forward, I believe the best help will involve opening as many doors as possible to survival. In my experience, pandemic survival for businesses involves two basic tenets: cash on hand or regular cash flow, and debt management or limited debt. The city may be able to help facilitate access to capital as stimulus funds are approved. Events normally held by the city need to evolve to accommodate pandemic times while also benefiting local businesses. Cold weather accommodations could be reviewed to preserve social distancing while also encouraging commerce. In the end, Burlington is a gold mine of intellectual resources. I believe we’ve hardly tapped the ideas that could generate revenues for our business community and thereafter our city’s coffers.”

Luhrs: “I would encourage low cost loans to local businesses and an ad campaign to educate and encourage residents to support local business. I support the City giving low interest loans to get affected businesses on their feet again.  I would keep a sharp eye out for any State or Federal grants for such purposes.”

Working with the business community

How would you work with and engage the business community if elected to City Council?

 

North District

Barlow: “It is absolutely critical that we create conditions that attract more businesses to locate here and enable those that do to thrive.  Growth and economic development are central to maintaining Burlington’s vitality and those in the business community are key players.  Commercial property on the grand list, tax revenue from economic activity, and local jobs all make Burlington more affordable for those who live here and make our city more competitive in the larger regional economy.  If elected I would pursue business friendly policy and support smart growth in Burlington.   We need more projects like CityPlace that address housing, downtown revitalization, increasing tax base, and increased economic activity.  As a city councilor the business community would have my ear and my belief that they are vital partners in achieving a more prosperous and affordable Burlington”.

Christianson: “I spoke extensively about ways for us to better engage our business community during my roundtable discussion, available at https://kienanforburlington.com/roundtable-series/.  I believe that small and local businesses are the lifeblood of Burlington and Vermontmore generally.  My husband started three small businesses here and currently works at a small branding studio, Scout Digital, founded by three local Burlingtonians.  I want to hear directly from local business leaders and owners on how the City can help support them, particularly through this crisis.  I think as we move through the pandemic, ensuring all of our local businesses are able to function in an online setting is vitally important.  I would encourage trainings and other resources to help local businesses transition to an online platform.  For those businesses that require in-person service, working to help them openly safely or providing direct assistance through small business loans is important to me.”

 

South District

Shannon: “I have presented to BBA meetings and Church St Marketplace meetings  several times to engage the groups on issues of mutual importance.  I would continue to do this.  I also make myself available to anyone who has concerns.  I’m always happy to meet with any stakeholders to problem solve, and work collaboratively on solutions.”

 

Central District

Archambeau: “My approach to the business community would be how I approach teamwork in my career. First, treat everyone on the team with mutual trust, accountability and respect. From there, I like to break down problems and ensure that there is team agreement on identifying those problems. Once the team has bought into the agreement, ideas can be brainstormed to resolve the issues. It’s important to honor any idea because the ultimate resolution may be a hybrid of multiple ideas. So in effect, the team is working towards the same goals with an understanding that working together will make for a common good. While all this may sound cliché, I am resolute in seeing Burlington as a team. All of us who interact with Burlington – including our networking circles – are Burlington. With this mindset, we can solve any issue before us.”

Luhrs: “I would encourage our business community to look for innovative ways to sustain business. I’d encourage the City to support local business and go against the grain of what is being imposed on us which is only big and internet business. I think if we focus locally we have the best chance of having some control of economic development.”

 

Transportation Choice

We have heard from some constituents that it is not easy to access our downtown. What transit and/or parking solutions would you propose to improve access to our downtown for everyone? What funding sources are available to invest in these solutions?

 

North District

Barlow: “One issue that impacts New North Enders’ ability to access downtown is the lack of bus routes in the neighborhoods that feed into North Avenue.  Some neighborhoods can be a mile from an available bus stop. Additional routes or regularly scheduled “Specials” would be a way to provide easier access, paid through ridership and state/federal transportation subsidies.  For those who do drive downtown, parking can be challenging and off-putting. Reconnecting the street grid as part of the CityPlace project may open up additional travel and walking options that change parking dynamics in the downtown core and make some currently less desirable parking locations more convenient.  Street reconnection will be paid for as part of the CityPlace development agreement.  The public parking garage on South Winooski avenue is avoided by some because of its condition.   A much needed makeover for that garage with improvements to the stair towers and elevator situation might make it a more attractive parking option.  We would have to bond or find other funding for that improvement.”

Christianson: “Lack of parking downtown is a big contributor to folks in the NNE not being able to access downtown. We have a solid bus route in the NNE, but only if you live along or near the avenue.  For many folks, particularly older folks, if they cannot walk to the bus stop, either because the sidewalks are not well-maintained or it is icy and cold, then they will not come to downtown.  I would like to see a small set of shuttle vans that go out into the neighborhoods that will bring folks closer to the lake and the river to the Avenue so that when it is cold out, they can use the public transportation system.  I would also like to see more incentives in commuting with a neighbor to and from downtown.  So many of us work and travel downtown, that it makes sense to encourage folks to carpool.  We can work with Montpelier and the stimulus money coming in to help fund some of these projects, though carpooling would require more of an organizational arm rather than an investment arm.”

 

South District

Shannon: “I don’t know and I need to learn more about this.  I will say our public transportation system, using the downtown as a hub makes it impractical for most places OTHER than downtown.  But it does serve downtown pretty well.  If the issue is that it’s inaccessible to people who drive cars and don’t want to use alternative forms of transportation, this is a problem in every successful city.  I’m willing to work on solutions, but I do not have one today.”

 

Central District

Archambeau: In my nine years on the Public Works Commission – three as Chair – I worked with Kelly Devine on the Downtown Parking & Transportation Management Plan. This was a big step to bringing city parking assets and private parking assets in line and available for visitors. While good in theory, we consequently hear from users that the experience is anything but equitable. Private lots charge more and are in some cases not as user friendly, according to those who reach out. To me, the user experience matters most. If it’s inconsistent, it is a recipe for frustration. So parking rates and fines need to be revisited. As for getting to downtown, it is surely not as easy as taking an exit off a highway and being there. At the same time, the drive down the hill to downtown is one of the most magical experiences one can have when entering Burlington. The view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks coming down Main Street is unbeatable! I’m supportive of proportionally-sized shuttles running from top-of-the-hill locations like the Sheraton or Staples Plaza on a regular basis to keep from a negative vehicular experience. The College Street shuttle is often empty yet keeps running. It seems as though this could be revisited. Separately, the Champlain Parkway appears to finally be making headway. I am supportive of the Champlain Parkway only as it contains the associated Railyard Enterprise Project that will divert traffic away from low-income neighborhoods and onto Battery Street. Funding for the REP was recently secured and is on a healthy track to be completed in a few years’ time. There will be a gap in time where traffic dumps into the fragile neighborhoods of King and Maple Streets and the shorter that time lapses, the better. Both the Chaplain Parkway and Railyard Enterprise Project are to be funded primarily through federal and state resources, with minimal local matching dollars. This is a high ROI opportunity.”

Luhrs: Hopefully the emphasis on rebuilding our infrastructure on the Federal level will bring some money to our City. I would like to see more bike and mobility vehicles routes right downtown. European cities have mixed transport and bike lanes. I am pleased to see the City adding some smaller buses that could run more often and be more economical. I do not favor more parking downtown as it adds pollution and congestion. I think we could have more parking in multi storied buildings with solar and green roofs on the outskirts of the City with jitneys to take people down town. We could also have a small rail on the tracks from downtown to the Intervale to allow people to access that area.”


Grace Ahmed (Independent- South District), Perri Freeman (Progressive- Incumbent, Central District), and Jack Hanson (Progressive- Incumbent, East District) declined to respond. 

 

Advocacy Update – City Council Postpones Action on Police Department “Staffing Crisis”

UPDATED 1/29 to include letter for organizations to sign on to.

Monday night, the Burlington City Council voted to postpone action on the staffing crisis facing our Police Department, stating that they were not prepared to take action that may put residents at risk. 

Specifically, the council declined to vote on Mayor Weinberger’s proposed Public Safety Continuity Plan. The council will revisit the item at its February 8th meeting. This proposal, in part, is designed to address staffing issues which, if left unaddressed, make it highly likely that in the near future the residents of Burlington will not be able to reliably expect local police response 24 hours a day. 

During the 2 hour public forum, it was announced that the plan earned support from a group of 20 former City Councilors and a former Mayor representing every political affiliation with over 100 years of combined experience. In their letter, which you can read here, the group wrote, “We implore the City Council to adopt the proposed Public Safety Continuity Plan and ensure that adequate public safety services are reliably available 24 hours a day. The safety of the public is the most important function of a local government, and the City Council is central to ensuring it.”

This letter proved meaningful in convincing the city council of the severity of the problem. In the coming days, the BBA will be considering how we can participate in similar efforts to elevate the voices of you and our entire membership. Please contact Kelly Devine if you’d like to discuss.

To learn more about the developments from last night’s meeting, you can read this VT Digger article and watch this report from WCAX

The official documents from last night’s meeting have also been provided below: 

This is an ongoing issue of great concern to all of us, so we will be in touch with you in the coming days with guidance on who the business community can best engage in the conversation around this important issue.  

 

UPDATE (1/29/21)

A group of businesses has written a letter for organizations to sign on to in order to voice support to the City Council of maintaining 24-Hour public safety services.

The letter will not be sent with any fewer than 50 signatures. You will also have the opportunity to review the final letter prior to it being delivered to the City Council.

View the letter and sign.

To: Burlington City Council
From: ## Local Business and Non-Profit Organizations

Re: Maintaining 24-Hour Public Safety Services

We are a group of ## Burlington business and non-profit organizations representing 1000’s of employees and Burlingtonians. Like you, we care greatly about the Burlington community, the wellbeing of all residents, and vitality of her future.

Following suit of the group of former elected representatives who shared the same sentiment, we recognize that public safety is more than just policing and agree there should be robust conversation on how policing and public safety generally can be improved.

We implore the City Council to adopt a Public Safety Continuity Plan that ensures adequate public safety services are reliably available 24 hours a day. The safety of the public is the most important function of a local government, and the City Council is central to ensuring it.

Please act swiftly to adopt a plan that ensures base-level public safety services and not cause undue and needless risk to our community.

Thank you.

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