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Friday, May 22, 2020

UVM, Burlington Plan 'Supportive Quarantine' Program for Returning Students

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 5:43 PM

The University of Vermont and the state Department of Health are working with the Vermont National Guard to set up an on-campus testing site for students as they begin to return to Burlington on June 1.

Many off-campus leases begin that day, and the city and UVM are expecting students, a majority from out of state, to start streaming back into town. Officials and city residents have expressed concerns that those students could bring the coronavirus back with them.

Out-of-state students, like anyone returning to Vermont, must quarantine for 14 days — meaning stay on their property — before venturing out. Mayor Miro Weinberger said during a briefing Friday that, anticipating difficulties, the city will implement a "supportive quarantine" service for housebound students.

The program will also be available to other Burlington residents who return from out of state, such as second-home owners or snowbirds.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Homeless Will Return to North Beach Campground — In Tents

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2020 at 8:11 PM

The campground bathhouse - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • The campground bathhouse
Burlington's North Beach Campground will again host a low-barrier homeless shelter, this time with a sanctioned tenting site.

ANEW Place will begin operating a 30-tent shelter on June 1, according to executive director Kevin Pounds. Guests had previously stayed there in leased camper-trailers.

The popular spot will otherwise be closed for camping this season, though pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles can still access the property, according to the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department. City officials did not immediately respond to an interview request.

The 137-site North Beach Campground draws nearly 30,000 visitors between May and October every year. Campsite reservations there accounted for more than $625,000 in revenue in 2018.
Pounds is grateful that the city has offered up the space.

"This is a unique situation," he said, adding, "The city has been very proactive in working with us to find solutions."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Adam Roof, Former Burlington City Councilor, Joins Crowded Senate Field

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2020 at 2:25 PM

Adam Roof while on Burlington City Council - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN
  • File: Courtney Lamdin
  • Adam Roof while on Burlington City Council
Former Burlington city councilor Adam Roof announced Tuesday that he’s joining the growing field of candidates for Vermont Senate.

Roof, 31, told Seven Days he’s running as a Democrat for one of the six Chittenden County Senate seats because the state needs people with a diversity of government, nonprofit and business experience to help Vermont recover from the pandemic.

“If we’re not able to work across those sectors in the next couple of years, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble,” he said.

There will be two openings in the district as incumbents Tim Ashe, the Democrat/Progressive Senate president pro tempore, and Debbie Ingram, a Democrat, are running for lieutenant governor.

The district's four other incumbents announced last week that they'll run for reelection on the Democrat line: Sens. Philip Baruth, Ginny Lyons, Christopher Pearson and Michael Sirotkin.

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Burlington Council Passes Mask Mandate, Orders Controversial Mural Removed

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2020 at 1:44 AM

  • Colin Flanders
  • The mural
Burlington City Council members on Monday delivered a clear directive about the downtown "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural: Get rid of it.

A resolution to remove or cover the controversial painting by the end of August passed 11 to 1. Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District) voted no.

A council majority also approved an emergency order requiring people to wear facial coverings in Queen City shops and public buildings. Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7) cast the lone no vote.

The packed virtual meeting also featured a vote on a proposal to expand the massive Cambrian Rise development on North Avenue by 180 apartments. That passed unanimously. And councilors received a briefing on the long-stalled CityPlace Burlington project, which yet again faces potential construction delays.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Burlington Council to Consider Mandatory Masks, Removing Mural

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 5:13 PM

"Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural in downtown Burlington - FILE: SADIE WILLIAMS
  • File: Sadie Williams
  • "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural in downtown Burlington
The Burlington City Council on Monday will consider a measure to make mask-wearing mandatory in all city shops. Another resolution up for vote would remove the controversial "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural from the Church Street Marketplace by the end of August.

The packed agenda also includes a request from developer Eric Farrell to add 180 more apartments to his 770-unit Cambrian Rise project, which is currently under construction on North Avenue. In addition, the council will get an update on the CityPlace Burlington development downtown.

The face-mask resolution, sponsored by Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District), comes as retail stores prepare to reopen Monday, albeit at reduced capacity. Gov. Phil Scott has said store employees must wear masks, but he has stopped short of requiring customers to do so.

At a press conference Friday, the governor did say that municipalities can set their own requirements — and Shannon said she has the votes to make it a reality on Monday. Progressive councilors Zoraya Hightower (Ward 1), Brian Pine (Ward 3), Jane Stromberg (Ward 8) and Jack Hanson (East District) all signed on as cosponsors.

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Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Announces Bid for Vermont House

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 4:15 PM

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak - COURTESY OF LAURA HALE
  • Courtesy of Laura Hale
  • Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, who formerly served as both a Burlington city councilor and as chair of the Vermont Progressive Party, has announced her candidacy for the Vermont House.

Mulvaney-Stanak will run in the Chittenden 6-2 House district, where Rep. Jean O’Sullivan (D-Burlington) currently holds the sole seat. It includes parts of Burlington’s Old North End and New North End neighborhoods. Mulvaney-Stanak said she plans to seek the Democratic nomination, as well as the Progressive endorsement.

"Now more than ever, we really need voices in the Statehouse that are clearly and laser-focused on economic justice issues," she told Seven Days, including decent wages and workers' rights. The mother of two said she'd also focus on equity and education, and added that Vermont should do more for young families.

"I have a front-row seat to the struggles of finding affordable, high-quality childcare," she said. "That is a real-life struggle for thousands of Vermonters. It matters when you have people in the Statehouse who are actually living that."

Mulvaney-Stanak worked for more than 10 years for the Vermont-National Education Association teachers' union, where she led organizing and leadership development efforts. In 2018, she launched a consulting business, EMStrategies, through which, she said, she supports social change and equity issues for clients such as unions and school districts. She also coaches political candidates.

O'Sullivan, a businesswoman who established a financial services company,  was appointed to the seat in 2012 and has been reelected four times since. She, too, formerly served as a Burlington city councilor.

O'Sullivan did not respond to requests for comment. 

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Champlain Parkway Construction Pushed to Spring 2021

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 11:23 PM

Champlain Parkway plans, from Home Avenue to Lakeside Avenue - CITY OF BURLINGTON
  • City of Burlington
  • Champlain Parkway plans, from Home Avenue to Lakeside Avenue
Construction on the long-planned Champlain Parkway is now scheduled to begin in spring 2021.

Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer told the city council Monday night that "a shrinking number of legal challenges" remain but a start date next year is realistic. The 2.8-mile road through Burlington's South End has been in the works since the 1960s.

"We've made solid progress on this project," Spencer said, noting that the city has finalized utility and right-of-way agreements.

"These are milestones that have put the project in a position where we could be out to bid in seven or eight months," he added. "We're confident we can get there."

Spencer said last May that he expected the city would begin construction by December 2019. But that June, a grassroots group known as the Pine Street Coalition filed a federal lawsuit seeking to delay construction. They argued that the parkway design relied on outdated population, traffic and land-use data.  Last August, a judge granted the coalition's motion to halt construction and required the city to reevaluate how the project impacts minority and low-income populations in the King and Maple street neighborhoods, VTDigger.org reported at the time.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Burlington Plans to Offer Summer Camps, Reopen Some Parks

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2020 at 7:51 PM

Roosevelt Park in the Old North End - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • Roosevelt Park in the Old North End
The City of Burlington will reopen some parks facilities and is planning to host youth summer camps now that the state is permitting more social interaction during the coronavirus crisis.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said Wednesday afternoon that city dog parks, pickleball and tennis courts, and the Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark, all of which had been closed to comply with Gov. Phil Scott's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, will open this weekend. Basketball courts and playgrounds will remain closed, the mayor said.

"We're gonna do these quarter-turns of the spigot here at the local level," Weinberger said, employing Scott's oft-used analogy. "We've gotta do this. These steps are needed for our collective physical, emotional and economic wellbeing."

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School Distribution Sites Provide Food, Toys for Burlington Kids

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2020 at 2:59 PM

The toy selection outside Champlain Elementary School on Tuesday - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • The toy selection outside Champlain Elementary School on Tuesday
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, a weekday morning at Burlington’s Champlain Elementary School meant a parking lot packed with teachers’ cars.

But on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., the lot was virtually empty, save for a Burlington School Food Project van and several long folding tables neatly lined with toys.

Since March 18, the Pine Street school has served as one of the Burlington School District’s 11 food distribution sites, providing free breakfasts and lunches to Queen City kids ages 18 and under.

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Monday, April 27, 2020

After Police Scandal, Burlington Adopts a Social Media Policy

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 10:41 PM

The Burlington City Council on Monday - SCREENSHOT/CHANNEL 17
  • Screenshot/Channel 17
  • The Burlington City Council on Monday
Burlington finally has a social media policy for city employees, months after bad online behavior ended the careers of two Queen City police chiefs.

Such a policy has been discussed for years, but it wasn't until Monday night that the Burlington City Council came together and unanimously adopted regulations for its employees' internet interactions.

The four-page policy seeks to strike a balance between allowing free speech and protecting the city's image. While workers are permitted "incidental and occasional" social media use at work, they should "use common sense" when posting online, the policy says. Employees must also publish a disclaimer on their personal profiles stating that their posts don't represent the views of the city.

City Councilor Ali Dieng (I-Ward 7), who helped vet the draft while serving on the council's Human Resources Committee, opened the discussion by referencing the recent social media scandal that led former chief Brandon del Pozo and deputy chief Jan Wright to resign in quick succession.
"This is a well-written policy that many people have been waiting for," Dieng said. "This is a great opportunity ... for protecting the city employees and also making sure that the community has the trust of the people that do great work for them."

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