Coffee, Anyone? Mayor Weinberger Chats With Constituents | Off Message

Coffee, Anyone? Mayor Weinberger Chats With Constituents


The mayor enjoys coffee and bagels with residents  in the South End - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The mayor enjoys coffee and bagels with residents in the South End
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger wants the University of Vermont to increase its payment in lieu of taxes and build more student housing. 

A revised design for the Burlington Town Center should be coming soon, and the mayor said he looks forward to a makeover of what "is essentially a suburban mall dropped down on the rest of our downtown."

And one more thing - save the date for Nov. 30. The city is holding a 7 p.m. public meeting on the proposed Champlain Parkway at Champlain School.

These news tidbits came up during Weinberger's constituent coffee klatch in the South End Tuesday morning. About 20 people showed for the 8 a.m. gathering to sip java and nosh bagels (not taxpayer-funded) at Feldman's on Pine Street. Outside, the sun shone on a rush-hour parade of cars, cyclists and school children on foot, while inside the mayor chatted about bike lanes, housing and lead abatement. Opinions flowed with the caffeinated beverages.

UVM sometimes acts as a "bully" in the community, and the mayor should push hard on the University to house more of its students, suggested Keith Pillsbury, a Ward 8 resident and former city school board member. Pillsbury said, "They are not going to do it unless there is political pressure to do it."

Please don't turn the Shelburne Street rotary into a roundabout, urged Roger Gibeault of Pine Street. "I think it's fine the way it is." He hates the traffic circle in Winooski, by the way, and doesn't want Burlington following suit. "We don't need another one like that." 

The Burlington rotary is going to become a roundabout, but it won't be like the one in Winooski, said the mayor and Director of Public Works Chapin Spencer, who was also at Feldman's. The Burlington intersection is a high-accident zone "that doesn't work for a lot of folks," Spencer said. This fact helped convince the state to pay for 100 percent of a redo, which should be complete in a few years. What's with that clutter of trucks and construction workers at the intersection now? They are doing "subsurface utility exploration," as a prelude to the above-ground work that will come later.

Along with all these issues, a simpler one arrived in the form of Stacy Weinberger, the mayor's wife. She showed up midway through the coffee to hitch a ride to work with her husband because her car was acting up. So after the cups were drained and the issues were aired, the mayor and the missus headed off to continue the day.