Meeting notes, Feb 21, 08

Wards 4 and 7 Joint Neighborhood Planning Assembly
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Heineberg Center


Lea Terhune, facilitator
Senada Sekocevic, timekeeper
Mary Chaffee, notetaker
The meeting was called to order at 7 PM. Lea introduced the presenters and steering committee members, and welcomed members. By a show of hands there were many first-time people.
Breakdown of attendees: There were approximately 93 people present, of which 56 signed in. Almost all indicated their ward:

WARD 4: 27 WARD 7: 21 WARD 6: 2 WARD 5: 2 OFFICALS: 13

Ron read the Ground Rules. The minutes for the previous meeting on January 17 were approved by a show of hands, with Jim Flint dissenting, on a point of order. He declined to explain his decision.
Candidates, Open Forum:
The candidates introduced themselves briefly.


WARD 4: Sherrie Lee Ireland (R), Linda Deliduka (D). WARD 7: Jim Couture (D)


WARD 4: James Couture (D). WARD 7: Diane Noyes (D) was not present


WARD 4: Bernie O’Rourke. WARD 7: Thom Fleury


WARD 7: Paul Decelles (R), Steve McIntyre (D). WARD 4: Russ Ellis (D)
Q. What do you think about the proposed Appletree Point Development? Lori Sullivan, Ward 4.
A. Russ Ellis: A mistake. There are better places for Senior housing (the current Motor Vehicle Building on N. Ave. near services and bus line is under consideration). Paul Decelles: agrees. Steve McIntyre: Agrees: developers should once again be required to present to NPAs before things go too far. Maurice Mahoney: Proposed Appletree development doesn’t make sense: scale is wrong for neighborhood; no services nearby for seniors.
Q. Moran Plant?
A. Steve M: reservations about business plan. Moran re-development should house profitable businesses. If foundation is unsafe, shouldn’t waste more time and money. Paul: A refurbished Moran will boost city’s economy.
Q: What about a previous study showing that 86% of residents want Moran replaced with a park? Peggy Gallant, Ward 7.
  1. Russ: A park comes along with the re-development, funded partly by Fed. funds. But if Moran is just torn down, a park will cost the city even more, since Fed funds won’t be available. A vote FOR Moran = 80 permanent jobs, $6 million added to city economy. Vote AGAINST = eyesore will be around for a long time. Steve: disagrees about availability of Fed. funds.
Q. Repave North Avenue, add bike lanes in both directions from BHS to Plattsburg Avenue? Jim Flint, Ward 7.
A. Steve is definitely in favor of that. The bike path is not a direct route into town, and intersections on North Ave. are not safe for bike or ped.
Paul: DPW has plans for North Ave. and Paul supports bike lanes.
Russ puts about 1000 miles on his bike, and is in favor of bike lanes.
Q. Is the upcoming referendum our only chance to weigh in on Moran issue? If result is “yes” will we ever get another chance?
A. Russ: if the city needs to issue a bond, the voters will have to approve. And NPAs will be consulted as the process continues. The city’s bond rating is Triple A.
Q. Will a proposed new hotel on the waterfront eat up even more open space? Maryanne, Ward 7.
A. Paul: The site proposed for the hotel is behind Breakwater’s” on the King Street Dock, by the Maritime Museum, and is not on open space.
Q. What is Burlington;s Standard and Poor’s rating? Jim Thomas, Ward 7.
A. Russ: Triple A, the best. Jim responds that this would make a bond issue the way to go.
Q. Illness among teachers at BHS? Ralph Montefusco, Ward 4.
A. Thom Fleury: Need to look at physical plant for efficiency, safety. School Board will continue to follow up.
Q. Consolidation of the scools? Wally Elliott, Ward 4.
A. Thom: we want to meet the needs of all our students, including after school. We work with the city, with Parks & Rec to do this.
Paul: This is a school issue, but also a city issue.
Q. Money for Senior Centers? Lea Terhune, Ward 4.
A. Russ: an amended resolution proposes $75,000 to start, with more fund raising needed. Steve: Need to find sustainable funding. Move a business into the Armory? Other creative solutions needed. Paul: agrees.
Q. Magnet schools? Alan Sousie, ward 7.
A. Bernie O’Rourke: we need socio-economic balance, and there’s a price-tag involved, but I think every school should be a magnet school.
. Thom: we need to make sure our schools are balanced, and 68% of people surveyed want neighborhood schools.

Ballot Questions, Open Forum

School Budget - Jeanne Collins
Veterans Property Tax Discount – Craig Gutchell
Burlington Electric Dept. Bond – Mayor Bob Kiss, Barb Grimes
NO2 Reduction system for McNeil Plant - Barb Grimes
Re-develop Moran Plant - Mayor Bob Kiss
Recycle Moran Plant - Maurice Mahoney

Introductory statements:
Jeanne Collins: School budget funds pre-school and afterschool programs for NNE
Craig Gutchell: Veterans Discount referendum increases property tax exemption for vets (and their families, widows etc.) to $40,000, with minimal cost to city, no tax increase
Barbara Grimes: $39.6 million bond issue makes BED greener and more reliable, reduces nitrous oxide, cuts emissions in half.
Mayor Kiss: Planners encourage redevelopment of Moran over demolition. Three commercial partners (Ice Factor, Children’s Museum, Sailing Center) will bring economic benefits to city.
Maurice Mahoney: Ice climbing isn’t a big market. If Ice Factor leaves, no backup plan. Sailing Center makes sense. But cost of Moran demolition alone is $1.5 million, better spent on infrastructure.

Q. Will Children’s Museum offer a discount? Martha Frank, Ward 4.
A. (from the floor): Museum will be affordable, with special passes and discounts
Q. Will there be joint memberships with other museums? Beth Wiliams, Ward 7.
Q. (to Jeanne Collins) Pre-school program at Flynn Elementary, what ages will it serve and will it be open to every member of the community? Jim Flint, Ward 7.
A. Jeanne Collins: Currently serving about 90% of kids with disabilities between 3-5. There is a waiting list.
Q. (to Mayor Kiss): What is your opinion of the proposed Appletree development? Lori Sullivan, Ward 4.
A. Bob Kiss: I support the process, which will result in a good outcome. The process is critical to getting good projects in the end.
Q (to Mayor Kiss): In view of the project’s size and unsuitability for the site and neighborhood, why wasn’t it directed to downsize sooner?
A. Bob Kiss: I have faith in the review process, which will result in a good outcome. Good public process is a challenge of good government.
Q. (to Craig Cutchell) Does the disabled vet property tax discount include family?
Craig: Yes, it includes widows and widowers, and children, even if they only have partial ownership.
Comment, Coach Dave: Moran isn’t a good investment for the City. There are so many other issues that need city money. Schools need money! His girls’ team plays at other schools, and they notice that other schools are nicer, don’t have shabby gyms and leaky roofs. Schools would be a better investment of tax dollars.
Q. After the Westlake debacle, how can we trust the process? Gigi Weisman, Ward 4.
A. It was developed under the previous administration.
Q. (to Mayor Kiss) You take a position on Moran development, why not on the Appletree development?
Mayor Kiss: Appletree project is in the planning process, and Moran will go through the planning and zoning process in the future.
Comment: Maurice Mahoney feels development should go to the NPAs and ask what residents want. He is completely opposed to the Appletree because it is out of scale and makes no sense for the city. Also, regarding the Moran Plant, it is tax incremental financing, so taxes go back to the district and do not generate tax money for the city.
City Council President Kurt Wright thanked all the presenters for participating.
Q. (to the Mayor) Will the Moran park be on the North 40? Josanna Cole, Ward 7.
Mayor: Nothing is being built on the North 40. It is unlikely that the park could be built until the end because it would get messed up.
Bruce Seifer, CEDO, went over a hand-out with info about financial aspects of the Moran Plant.
Devin Coleman, Ward 7. Ward 6 examined Moran renovation pros and con: tear down alone resulted in negative return to city. Demolition is expensive, rebuilding is better.
Tom Papp, Ward 4, President of Strathmore Association, on Moran: What’s the backup plan if Ice Factor doesn’t make it?
Sailing Center user supports Moran redevelopment, or we’ll be left with “the most expensive hole in Vermont.” Moran could be another jewel for Burlington.
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM