Monday, December 29, 2014

Burlington: platform for preservation and change

Despite developer pressure and sweetheart deals on a variety of public-private partnerships and plans, real public input and sufficient time to consider all the options should be more than a formality, especially when the stakes are so high. Before rushing to sell or redevelop, inclusive alternatives and long-term impacts need to be more seriously considered.

We can't over-build our way out of problems. We must make the time to explore possibilities that create positive outcomes for all residents.

A Platform for Preservation and Change
Stop fast-track redevelopment 
Set standards for partnerships
Affordable housing * Raise the minimum wage
Keep BT Local * Preserve open spaces
Empower neighborhoods: funding for NPAs
Review police conduct * Legalize marijuana
Prevent bedding of F-35s at the airport

Burlington College: Unless the Mayor and City gets more involved very soon, more than 25 acres of land along the waterfront owned by Burlington College will be sold for the school to survive and intensively developed with commercial-rate housing. Mayor Weinberger claims that any development on this property must balance "conservation, public use, and housing." But the current plan calls for 400 units and little open space. With real city engagement, however, the current offer could be matched by a popular partnership between conservation groups, private investors, the college and the city to combine a small college campus, preservation of public access and open space, and compatible education purposes.

Climate Change: Burlington has seen a local increase of 7% in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, yet current redevelopment plans will only make the situation worse. Before we give the waterfront a gentrified makeover we need to rethink our infrastructure and transportation system for the 21st century.

Burlington Telecom: In its first 30 years of operation, the Burlington airport received about $100 million in transfers from the general fund. As infrastructure, Burlington Telecom is just as important today and, if we hold onto it, can provide long term benefits to thousands of citizens - but only if we look beyond short-term relief, resist the push to privatize, and protect this invaluable asset for future generations.

Democracy and Participation: One-party rule can be dangerous, especially when it gives the mayor a rubber stamp for whatever he or she wants. In the past Burlington has been known as a place with three viable parties where issues were discussed openly. But recently debate has been sidetracked on climate change, redevelopment and neighborhood concerns. We can do better. We need more democracy, not less.
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