Burlington, Vermont voters approved two bonds Tuesday totaling nearly $100 million to upgrade the high school and the city’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
On Election Day, Burlington voters by a nearly 4-to-1 margin approved a $70 million for capital improvements to Burlington High School, including new construction and renovation of old buildings. Ninety-two percent of city voters also approved $30 million in bonds to improve the city’s stormwater and wastewater systems. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is pleased both measures passed. “Both these votes were very important votes for the future of the city. Both are historic votes. I think it’s very exciting that the voters of Burlington have chosen you know a very significant investment into a renovated and largely new high school. And on the wastewater-stormwater bond what that really means is that we should in the years ahead be able to continue the pretty remarkable progress that Burlington has made as a community over the last 75 years protecting Lake Champlain from sewage and stormwater runoff.”
In September city councilors met to decide whether the school funding question should be put before voters. At the time North District Independent Councilor Dave Hartnett said while the students are getting a good education the building is “a dump.” He says he’s proud Burlington voters passed one of the biggest bond proposals ever before them. “I am glad that we have decided here in Burlington that we are going to make an investment in our public schools because this school was when I say crumbling I I it was literally just falling apart. I mean when it rained when we had heavy rainstorms you know kids walked around with umbrellas. All winter long they wore their winter jackets to class. There were some classrooms that only had one outlet and they weren’t even working at times. And that doesn’t even touch the handicapped accessibility needs that we were lacking. To me that’s unacceptable if we’re going to call ourselves one of the most liveable cities in the nation. So I was super excited when we got the results in on Tuesday night.”
Hartnett is not surprised that voters were also willing to approve $30 million for city water upgrades. “It was just a slam dunk. It had to be done. I think everybody realized that right? I mean Lake Champlain is one of our biggest resources and we can’t we couldn’t continue to allow you know the sewage to dump into Lake Champlain. And we have an outdated water system you know sewer system and it needs to be upgraded and so I think everybody in the city of Burlington knew and understood what needed to be done and it was just a foregone conclusion that it was going to pass.”
The first stormwater improvements are anticipated this winter and the project is projected to take five years. The school plan will progress in phases with construction expected to start in the spring of 2020.