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Burlington councilors review a number of items including a transportation project and a new police recruitment position

Burlington City Hall
Burlington City Hall (file)

During its meeting Monday night, the Burlington, Vermont City Council reviewed a proposed project to transform transportation in the city’s south end and approved creation of a Police Recruitment and Hiring Coordinator.

The council began by going into executive session to discuss contract negotiations for the relocation of the city’s network technology from Memorial Auditorium. The building has been closed due to structural concerns.

After they returned councilors held a work session on the Railyard Enterprise Project, a proposed South End project to connect Pine and Battery Streets. Burlington Public Works Department Senior Public Works Engineer and Project Manager Corey Mims provided an overview of four designs, including a no-build choice, and asked councilors to select a preferred alternative at their October 17th meeting.

“This is looking to develop multimodal transportation infrastructure improvements to that Pine Street and Battery Street corridor. A few of those main improvements that we’re looking to provide in this project are to support the economic development of the area; to improve the livability of the surrounding neighborhoods; enhance the multimodal travel connectivity both between Pine Street and Battery Street as well as the general waterfront area, to improve the intermodal connections to the Burlington Rail Yard as well as other designated intermodal facility.”

City Engineer and Project Supervisor Norm Baldwin noted there are significant property rights issues that must still be resolved for the project to move forward.

“A significant portion of this right-of-way for this roadway is within the railyard property rights that are owned by the state of Vermont. So we are somewhat at a disadvantage in dealing with that. But I will tell you that VRS (Vermont Rail System) has been very cooperative in trying to find solutions. Everyone within this process has been very cooperative with us, both property owners and the rail, to come to some balanced conclusions about the alternatives.”

Last week Mayor Miro Weinberger announced his appointment of Nicholas Longo to serve as Aviation Director of the Burlington International Airport. The appointment came before the council for final approval.

“Despite being relatively early in his career he has developed vast expertise related to this position through a number of roles, both roles within the airport and in other organizations that are airport stakeholders. So working for the FAA and he’s also worked for a fixed base operator which is a key stakeholder at the airport, then has come to the city and served in a variety of roles including as the Acting Director over the last year.”

Councilors voted unanimously to approve Longo’s appointment.

Burlington councilors also voted 7 to 1 to approve a new position created as part of the 2023 budget.

Chief Administrative Officer Katherine Schad explained the role of the new Police Recruitment and Hiring Coordinator.

“We envision this recruiter and hiring coordinator to work not only on helping us to get more police officers but also to help with community service officers, community support liaisons as well as dispatchers.”

The council held its first Cannabis Control Commission meeting to approve the first license applications pending satisfaction of all municipal operation requirements. Commissioner Joan Shannon praised city staff for their work and criticized the state.

“We’ve been lacking information from the state that we need. And one of the things that has happened is that the state has told us that we have confidential information that we cannot share, that at one point included the name of the businesses, the addresses of the businesses. We have no way of allowing the public to participate because they have no information except possibly the hours of some business somewhere in the city. It makes no sense what-so-ever.”

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