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Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger

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Join Mayor Weinberger for a virtual coffee every Wednesday from 8:00 - 9:00 am via Zoom. Here's the link to join the coffee through Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/690518385. You can also call in using the number (929) 205-6099, and ID 690 518 385. More details on the event page on Facebook.

 

 

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Mayor Miro Weinberger

February 7, 2021

Neighbors – I’m writing to share updates about two critical areas: the City’s settlement agreement with the developers of CityPlace Burlington, and the City Council’s upcoming decision on my plan to ensure public safety. I also to invite you to join me for coffee (details below) to talk about these topics or anything else.

Settlement agreement with developers of CityPlace Burlington

This week, I announced a settlement agreement with the developers of CityPlace Burlington. The settlement is a milestone that the City has been working toward since initiating legal action over the summer, and will guarantee the reconnection of the City's lost streets while also allowing the developer to advance a transformational project. In short, with this settlement the City is holding the developers of CityPlace accountable for the past while also creating a path for the project to move forward.

There is larger, historic significance to these announcements too. Since the construction of CityPlace stopped in the summer of 2018 the site has become know by colorful nicknames like the “pit.” In reality, though, we have had a large hole in this part of our city since the 1960s, when a neighborhood was torn down, streets were ripped out, and eventually a suburban shopping mall was built spanning three blocks of our small downtown. This week’s announcement means that we know that historic mistake will be fixed. The streets will be reconnected. The public infrastructure will be built to ensure that a vibrant downtown neighborhood with homes, jobs, and shops can once again flourish in this part of the city.

This image is from the City’s planBTV: Downtown Code, a planning process that started in 2010 and formalized the long-held dream of restoring St. Paul and Pine Streets through the downtown as shown. The settlement with the developers of CityPlace will transfer the land for these streets to the City at no cost (the developer has appraised this land at $4.3 million) as soon as all conditions of the settlement are met (likely this May), and the City will receive a guaranteed, legally enforceable contract, paid for by the developers (the value of which is estimated at $3.2 million), to reconnect the streets at no cost to taxpayers if the developers do not succeed in starting to build the project in approximately two years.

Along with the transformational benefit of the streets, the settlement requires the developer to repay lost property taxes to the City’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, which will have an estimated value of $300,000-$450,000 depending on when the construction begins. The settlement also retains the benefits of the City’s original Development Agreement, including protecting taxpayers from the risks of development, renewing the developer’s commitments to affordable housing and renewable energy, and others.

I will be presenting the settlement agreement to the City Council for discussion at its February 8 meeting, and seek approval at the Council’s February 16 meeting. Read more about the settlement.

Public safety continuity plan

It is a fundamental job of City government to ensure public safety. When the public calls, we need to be able to respond with professional public safety employees who are trained for the full range of emergencies and needs that Burlington residents expect to be addressed.

Over the last eight months, however, the City Council has created a crisis in public safety that threatens the City’s ability to continue to meet this responsibility. In June 2020, the City Council voted over my objections and the objections of Acting Chief Jon Murad to reduce the number of police officers in Burlington from 105 to 74, with almost no analysis of that new number and without a plan in place for how the City would respond to all the calls we receive with 30 percent fewer officers. Already, as a result of this vote, the Police Department has had to curtail services that range from our coordinated efforts to prevent graffiti to the street crime team. Soon, as staffing numbers continue to drop, the City will need to make further serious cuts to services.

At the City Council meeting at the end of January, my Administration made our second attempt to propose a solution to this crisis. Our Public Safety Continuity Plan would establish a new cap of sworn officers of 84 and a target level of 78. The proposal would also give the City capacity to shift more calls to personnel who have different training than sworn officers and do not carry weapons – a concept that has the potential to further improve our public safety services.

This proposal would give us a path forward to both provide essential services and try new strategies during a period while we are completing the analysis that we need in order to consider additional staffing changes and succeed at further transformation of the Police Department. I am continuing to urge the City Council to approve this proposal – without further delay – at its February 8 meeting. Learn more about the plan.

Join me for virtual coffee

Since I first ran for mayor, and through my nine years in office, I’ve held a coffee conversation to talk with constituents nearly every week. Before the pandemic these coffees took place in person, but since the spring I've moved them onto Zoom. I look forward to these meetings every week, and they offer a great forum for me to hear what’s on people’s minds and for us to talk about everything from the weeds of local energy policy to how the City’s doing on sidewalk plowing. I invite anyone who would like to talk to join me for a coffee soon. The coffees take place every Wednesday from 8:00 am to 9:00 am, and you can find the Zoom login information at burlingtonvt.gov/mayor.

Talk to you soon,

Miro

PS – We also shared big updates this week about the City’s response to Covid-19 and our work to steward the City’s finances. Take a look at those two links to learn more.