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Letters to the Editor (5/25/16) 

Mall Matters

Great piece [Off Message: "Burlington Council Excited — Yet Anxious — About Mall Project," April 26]. I have been following this project because, clearly, that space has needed a guiding hand and some TLC for a long time! Burlington is an amazing town, and Church Street is its heart. What happens there matters.

I know nothing about development, but I think Kate McCarthy, as quoted in the article, is right on. That's a perfect spot for high-density expansion. And the mixed use described sounds well thought out. Done right, it will really enhance that site and all of downtown.

I imagine it takes guts and inspiration and a whole lot of energy to take on a project of that scope, so I have appreciation for Don Sinex and his efforts. Here's hoping he is able to proceed with both head and heart engaged, with the best outcome for all.

Marna Ehrech


Boulder's Height Limit

Re [Off Message: "Council Approves Preliminary Agreement with Burlington Town Center Developer," May 3]: Burlington is competing against Boulder, Colo., and Evanston, Ill., in the World Wildlife Fund's "sustainability bragging rights" contest. Simultaneously, redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center includes increasing the building height limit.

When it comes to renewable electricity, bike paths, an attractive downtown, lively civic life and a sensational natural setting, we are competitive. But we seem eager to compromise away our visual connection to the beauty around us. Our present height limit is 105 feet; the predevelopment plan passed by city council calls for 160 feet, a 52 percent increase.

In contrast, Boulder has had a 55-foot limit since 1971, locked into the city charter by popular vote. Why? Because they have something worth seeing — and they want to continue to see it from street level. Boulder's municipal code says:"The purposes of this height limitation [include] ... to preserve scenic views of the mountain backdrop, which are a unique asset to the community and provide a distinctive character and setting for the city and which provide an attraction to tourists, visitors, and students."

We in Burlington also have something worth seeing: the shining lake against the sweep of the Adirondacks. Going from 105 to 150 feet is a quantum change in itself but even larger as a precedent-setter for substituting a concrete skyline for open access to an inspiring, liberating view-scape worthy of a green city. We can grow green, and we can sock it to Boulder, without going up. Please hold it on height.

Robert Herendeen


Businesses Behind Mall Project

Your article [Off Message: "Council Approves Preliminary Agreement with Burlington Town Center Developer," May 3] did not mention the wide-ranging support for the mall project from a coalition led by the Burlington Business Association.

The Move Burlington Forward coalition held a press conference on April 28 to voice its support for this project. More than 100 organizations, businesses and service agencies are members of this growing coalition. Organizations speaking at the press conference included the University of Vermont Medical Center, Local Motion, AARP, Vermont Interfaith Action, Seventh Generation and Skirack. Move Burlington Forward includes a range of downtown and statewide stakeholders including both the state and regional chambers of commerce, residents, taxpayers, religious groups, social service agencies, walk-bike advocates, and many local businesses. A complete list as well as a copy of the April 28 press release is available at

More than 40 coalition members spoke in support of the Burlington Town Center project at the Burlington City Council meetings on April 28 and May 2. Coalition members cite the following benefits in their support of this project:

  • environmentally friendly, dense development in the right location;
  • enhancements to Burlington's bike-walk environment;
  • adding critically needed housing;
  • adding and retaining downtown jobs;
  • bringing much-needed vibrancy to downtown; and
  • improving connectivity to Burlington's waterfront.

Move Burlington Forward will continue to include its voice as Burlington progresses through the necessary steps required to evaluate the Burlington Town Center redevelopment project.

Kelly Devine


Devine is executive director of the Burlington Business Association.

Facts Be Damned

[In Feedback: "Racist View?" May 11] Carolyn Wesley takes great issue with Sen. Richard Westman's "overtly racist" thinking and Seven Days for not holding him "accountable for what really lies behind his concerns with the Vermont Life design" [in "Senate Appropriations Wants to Give Vermont Life a Deadline" May 4].

But an editor's note dispels her whole theory by showing that the Vermont Life cover she references to show Sen. Westman's "racist" thinking did not even exist at the time of the committee presentation. Those damnable facts!

So, I wonder what goes through Wesley's mind when it is revealed to her that the racial incident that upset her so never actually occurred. Relief that Vermont is not quite as bad as she thought? Anger that she had thought she had nailed a racist Republican senator and badly missed the mark? Shame? Remorse that she falsely accused an innocent individual of racist thinking and intent and should be thinking hard about a heartfelt open letter of apology in the same venue in which he was accused?

As they say: Stop the hate.

John Cross


Vote for This

["Pass/Fail: The 2016 Legislative Session's Final Tally," May 11] is misleading for reporting that passing automatic voting registration will make voting easier. It's good that we've followed Oregon's lead in making this provision. But it will only make more Vermonters eligible to vote rather than helping them actually vote. Now we need to take the next step as Oregon, Washington and Colorado have done and allow voting by mail. In a Washington Monthly article, Phil Keisling, another former Oregon secretary of state, argues that it has increased voter participation without compromising security. Come on, Vermont, let's do it.

John Sharpless


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