DECEMBER 15, 2009


Miller Center, 130 Gosse Court.
Facilitator: Marga Kempner , Ward 4; Note-taker, Phil LaVigne, Ward 7. 

6:45 pm. Welcome and Sign-In
7:00 Introductions, ANNOUNCEMENTS, Ground Rules, Agenda
Anyone who would like to make an announcement can do so at this time.

7:10 NPA Business – Nov 17, 09. minutes. *Copied below the agenda. CDBG grants. Resolutions.

7:20 Reports from Elected and Appointed Officials (Councilors, Legislators, Commissioners, Board Members, Steering Committee sub-committee, Task Force members, Working Groups, etc. )

7:30 Open Forum for Residents - Brief statements of neighborhood/city interest or concern.

8:00 Program: MAJOR DEVELOPMENT, THAYER SCHOOL MIXED HOUSING/COMMERCIAL, NEIGHBORHOOD ACTIVITY CENTER (NAC) SMART GROWTH.  Background on NPA designation of NAC and open space protection, Lea Terhune; NAC designation and Municipal Development Plan, Peter Potts; Site plan presentation: Amy Wright and Tim ashe from Cathedral Square, Brenda Torpe from Champlain Housing Trust; and Eric Farrell of Farrell Construction. Q&A.

8:50 Reflections: Statements of thoughts/ideas that came up during the meeting.

*MINUTES: November 17, 2009
7:00 Greg Jenkins, facilitator, opened the meeting with a review of the Ground Rules, Agenda and Program

NPA Business – Oct 20, 09. minutes were moved by Phil LaVigne, second by Nancy.  Committee Reports: Lea Terhune reported that the ecruiters Committee will meet in January. Anyone who wants to recommend someone,m contact Lea. Atiya has been appointed to the Planning Commission, and will be replaced by another high school student. We are checking first with someone who inquired last year.

Reports from Elected and Appointed Officials

Russ Ellis reported that the Council met until after midnight Monday night. The issue is conflict between two loyalties – obligation to move forward on Burlington Telecom and Moran Plant redevelopment, and to do so without requiring money that requires raising taxes. Russ said the dual responsibility to citizens is difficult because start-up installation costs were high and the city has been covering the losses with cash reserves that doesn’t follow the requirements of the Public Service Board. City Council voted not to use any money from the cash pool that is not repaid within 60 days, and delayed approval of a proposal to refinance BT. That is the most highly charged issue. Also at that council meeting, Paul Decelles presented a resolution honoring veterans, Council recognized a family whose mother was very active on school issues in Ward 3, Dr. Larry McCrory and John Tucker were remembered for their leadership in the community, and BHS Girls Soccer were praised. Questions: Lea asked about the link between Moran and BT. Russ said there was discussion of a resolution to hold off on further Moran plans given the withdrawal of one of the partners. Bob asked about the refinancing of BT. Russ said it looks like a 60 million deficit, and the interest will be significant. The city would sign a Certificate of Participation, and councilors asked what they entailed, and then decided to delay signing it until they know more. The city would authorize the payment, but the city is not required to be responsible for payment, but there could be serious consequences for the city if they didn’t pay up so they probably would. Cliff asked if Russ is more skeptical of city administration now? Russ said he is always in support of transparency and protocols, has always stressed this, and participated in several resolution in regard to this. Such a resolution passed this year, and now the idea that there will be oversight of BT, in addition to the administration, is underway. Does Russ still trust city officers? Yes. They may not always do it the best way, but City Council has been derelict in not insisting on oversight of BT. Somebody has to make the decisions, and Council was willing to let the administration make decisions for BT.

Mark Larson, legislature: Upcoming state budget challenge – 18 million deficit – depending on what happens with the federal health care reform bill. We also have bridges that have some problems, which could require considerable dollars. Lea said VT has been named the healthiest state in the nation, and credited the legislature, and thanked Mark and Kurt Wright with protecting our health programs at a time when there are budget cuts, and she asked for applause. Mark said VT is also the safest state, the best place to raise kids, clean environment, highest rate of women in leadership – and these are things the legislature has invested in for decades. The housing crash in other states is really bad, but our housing crash isn’t so bad because of our permit process. Mark supports IRV, thinks it is a good system, and it works. He explained the ranking system, and said it ensures that the winner will get 50% of the vote (compared to 40% requirement under the old system). You could do a regular runoff, but IRV does it all at one time on one ballot. More voters participate in the election because in a run off not so many people vote. Some folks don’t like it, and the petition about repealing IRV, sending back to the old system where you could win with 40% -- Burlington voted 3 times in favor of IRV, over 60%. A nice young woman came to Mark’s house and said she was against IRV because her mom only voted one preference, and they threw her ballot out.  Mark said that Burlington voters supported IRV three times, and supported it overwhelmingly. Cliff said the young woman is right. Her mother’s ballot would not have been counted after the first round. Mark said the mother chose not to be counted on run-off rounds by only voting one preference. Cliff said losers are picking the winners, and that does not work in a democracy. Mark described traditional run-off voting, and said it is the same process. Cliff said no, voters would re-look at the candidates and their qualifications. Mark said there are always funny dynamics, before and now. Lea said that the petition calls for a reconsideration vote, brings IRV back to the electorate, many IRV cities have called for reconsideration vote after a few elections, Burlington is not unusual; the new math is suspect, we’re used to football game playoffs with one final winner, and if there is a crisis in the city, most people don’t remember their second, third and fourth choices, they remember their first choice and you can end up with a Mayor who was very few people’s first choice, and if there is a crisis you end up with a crisis in confidence in city government. Mark said a lot of people voted for IRV because they (60%) were not confident in the old system. Lea said a reconsideration vote for IRV could strengthen confidence in IRV the city. Someone raised the 40% issue, but there was not time to talk about it further.

7:30 Open Forum for Residents - Brief statements of neighborhood/city interest or concern.

Starr Farm Gardens presented their CDBG grant proposal to improve the garden area that many ward 4 and ward 7 residents use. They want to put up a bulletin board, a shed for tools, and repair the potholes in the parking lot. Many low and moderate income families use the gardens to grow fresh produce, they have a waiting list, they have a good education program. Lisa Coven explained how Parks Dept works with the garden program. There are scholarships available, surplus food is donated to the food shelf, and Friends of Burlington Gardens is a supporter. Anne asked who owns the land, and the city owns it. They also own the doggie park, and the soccer field. Anne asked about the woods behind Flynn School, but the city doesn’t own that. Jim Flint explained how the NPA has supported gardens, and made the program possible. Liisa said there are many small groups that support gardens. Lea said we need more gardens.

Jenny Davis was at the Parks Commission meeting, where a presentation was made about Segway tours, 2-9 vehicles at a time. Jenny was surprised at the low turn out, the testimony was 50/50, the chamber favors it, Local Motion had a poll on their blog and hasn’t taken a position. Jenny encouraged people to make their opinion known. Parks & Rec Commission will make the decision. Phil asked if the company will pay for use of the city resource, and Gary Rogers said it will be on the January agenda of Parks and Rec Commission, after they do some research. Someone asked for another public meeting, later in the evening so people who work can get there. Even if the public hearing is closed, Jenny said people can always speak during public forum.

Don Supansic commented on the aftermath of garage sales, how people leave free items at the curb and leave it there for days. Don thinks it’s tacky, and would enhance the neighborhood if this were regulated.

Carolyn Bates spoke about her concern about beach fires at Leddy Park Beach. She said to call the police, and there’s a $50-200 fine, and asked fro NO FIRES signs, and reinstatement of the fees.

Janet Paterson announced Thanksgiving dinner at the Heineberg Center.

Slide Show – North End Mural Project. Jenny Davis, who organized the project, narrated the slides, and Chad Quirk was recognized for his work on the mural, and for painting our NPA signs. The project started because the building was vandalized by graffiti. Some of the artists were former vandals, now creating community art in an area that people see when they come through Leddy Park. The artists worked from sketches that came from ideas brainstormed at an NPA meeting. The NPA made a word list about what their community is, that the artists used to design the mural.

Program: WELCOME, MARI STEINBACH. Mayor Kiss explained the process by which the parks director was chosen, which included staff and residents. Candidates were interviewed by Skype, which worked very well. Mari Steinbach was recommended as the final candidate, and she came for a final interview and met with staff, commissioners and residents. Mayor Kiss said her strengths were and it is important to have a dialogue and inclusive process regarding how the department will run. Mayor asked her to join him in the penguinm plunge. She has previously worked in Anchorage Alaska!Welcome, from Gary Rogers, director of the Miller Center. Mari Steinbach lives in ward 7, and she walked to the meeting. She is impressed by the enthusiasm residents have, and with our help she expects to get a lot done. To summarize her philosophy, collaboration, dialogue, and democracy is the way to move forward. In a public forum like the one tonight on Segway, people have a lot of good ideas, and give us the concepts that Parks staff needs, partnership with the community is so important. When she hears an idea, she is open to possibilities and wants dialogue with residents. She wants to promote Burlington as the healthiest place to live, work and play. She thanked everyone for welcoming her with open arms. She’s lived in all four corners of the country, and the plunge sounded like a good idea in August…., but she’s a hearty Alaskan. She will listen, and do the best for the city of Burlington.

Everyone introduced themselves to Mari. Park/Rec-related programs and groups active in the North End, goals and acitvities, greeted Mari Steinbach: Nancy Powers, Friends of Leddy Park; Mary Chaffee, Friends of Starr Farm Dog Park; Kathy Olwell, Youth Center at the Miller Center and After-school Program at Hunt School; Janet Paterson, senior walking program; Mark Barlow, leddypark.org; Larry Walters, Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community; Anne Taylor, healthy earth anti-litter campaign.

Jim Flint, Your Healthy City Youth Farm. Executive director of Burlington Gardens. We have the largest community garden program in northern New England except for Boston. We were founded in the early 70s, and our newest initiative is a continuation of an Intervale youth gardening program, where youth learned abut farming skills. The program is now district-wide, and the new farm will be behind Hunt School. Jen McGowan, who started with the Intervale program, is full time staff. Jim, who grew up in the North End, has been the sole staff member since the 70s. Kathy Olwell pioneered the initial garden at Hunt, and that program will be enhanced by a 70 sq. ft garden “farm” which will provide produce for the school lunch program, senior programs, and the summer lunch program. In terms of food miles traveled, we will shorten the distance traveled. CDBG grants get a garden started. Nancy Powell asked about the funding for scholarships, and Jim said they rely on donations to pay interns in the summer. Nancy’s son participated in the program, and it was great. The educational aspect includes concepts of permaculture, organic, people-power, compost on site, sustainable, labor-intensive but that’s good for kids, highly nutritious foods, crops suitable for Vermont gardens, non-traditional foods popular with immigrants, diversity, planning. Youth can receive a small stipend, and that’s really important. Last year there were 75 applicants for 16 interns. We need to build both capacity and funding, and hope to give 12 stipends this coming summer. Many more students can participate, supervised by caring adults. Mary asked whether the land is suitable for organic? Hunt School was established in the 1950s, and no pesticides are used on school grounds, but the pitch pine colony created poor gardening soil. 60 yds of compost will be brought in, for raised beds. Future gardening will be organic. Anne recommended animal manure for nitrogen, and Jim said the compost incorporates manure. Mark explained how varied and appreciated the after-school programs are.

Reflections: Greg said the meteor shower will be on display around 10pm. Jenny reminded people that the Community Development Block Grant deadline is Dec 18. Contact Jenny to check whether a project idea is eligible. The idea has to be approved by the Neighborhood Planning Assembly, and signed off on by any city department impacted by the project. Applications on-line from CEDO. Or call Jenny. Reminder that Jan 18 is Martin Luther King Day of Service. Larry announced the Great American Smoke Out. Dave Hartnett reported that disc golf was on the Parks agenda tonight, the group [B'Towm] is working hard to find an alternative site; they are close to [identifying] another site north of here. They want 18 holes, so hopefully disc golf [in Leddy Park] will be put to rest pretty soon. The sooner we can get it off the tale, the better. Carolyn Bates asked why the Parks Commission doesn’t take the invitation off the table? B'Town has no money, no designer, why not put an end to it? Dave said the commission extended the invitation to bring a proposal for 9 holes at Leddy Park, and now they have to honor that. Dave didn’t vote for to extend this invitation, but the majority of commissioners did.

9 PM. Meeting Adjourned.