South End Game
Reading "Planning With Moxie" [November 26] and reviewing the city's planBTV website, one gets the impression that the only thing that matters in the South End is the hip vibe on Pine Street. Yes, artists have contributed much to the character and economic vitality of the South End. Their place here should be protected. Perhaps Ms. Silberberg's role in planBTV is narrowly limited to the arts, but it's unfortunate that she didn't mention the host of other issues such as housing, mixing land uses and transportation that will determine the long-term livability of the South End. Pine Street evolved as a low-density, single-use, commercial-strip corridor that is dependent on cars. Art and great local food have not changed that land-use pattern because they can't. They can't make housing more affordable or make the South End more walkable. But infill development can. Which is why it's important for an expert with Ms. Silberberg's credentials to make it clear that pitting artists against redevelopment is a false choice. Encouraging a denser mix of neighborhood stores, offices, upstairs apartments and, of course, artist live/work studios, is the type of place-making that will benefit South End residents and employees as well as artists.
Campoli is an urban designer and the author of Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form.
Don't Box In Burlington
[Re Off Message: "Mayor Supports Mixed Housing and Open Space on Burlington College Property," November 25; Off Message: "Burlington College Land Sale May Be Moving Forward," November 20; "Who Will Get the Land Around Burlington College?" November 5]: I am for infilling with higher-density housing to accommodate our growing urban population. I am not for infilling the few precious green spaces we have left in our urban landscape with this kind of building. We are a livable city because of the green spaces that front the city to the west and dot our walkable neighborhoods.
Please use what is already filled. Do not fill what remains open at this time.
Also, regarding his advertisement in last week's Seven Days: Thank you, Mannie Lionni, for being a steady and reasonable voice in the development continuum. Accommodating growth does not have to equal boxes filling in open acreage.
Thank you for your recent coverage of Burlington College's plan to sell off its undeveloped lakefront property along North Avenue and the Burlington Bike Path for intensive development [Off Message: "Mayor Supports Mixed Housing and Open Space on Burlington College Property," November 25; Off Message: "Burlington College Land Sale May Be Moving Forward," November 20; "Who Will Get the Land Around Burlington College?" November 5]. I am greatly disappointed to see this institution of alternative education pursue such a conventional and shortsighted plan that likely won't fix its financial problems nor create a waterfront that the people of Burlington want. While it was misguided for such a small institution to take on such a debt load, destroying this undeveloped property along the Lake Champlain waterfront is simply one more bad decision. In a city rich with wealthy institutions and individuals, the college should be pursuing partnerships and collaborations with other colleges, companies and organizations that would energize its impressive and largely underutilized building while also seeking funds and donors to preserve this irreplaceable property. This is an opportunity that should be seized by Burlington College and the City of Burlington.
To our mayor, who appears to think any development is good development, I ask you to look at the many city-owned parking lots downtown that could host affordable housing, and put your support there, not in developing green space. If raising $34 million to renovate the Moran Plant is deemed "achievable," surely rallying support to protect a one-of-a-kind property for $7 million is more than possible.
Your frowning face on the news that St. Michael's adjunct faculty joined two other Burlington area colleges in voting to unionize brought a frown to my visage [Last 7: Facing Facts, December 3]. I wonder if Seven Days understands the financial situation many of these colleges' best teachers are put in when their pay per class equals about 1 percent of the college president's salary, even though their workload is similar to their full-time colleagues. The fact that these educators can now have a say in their working situation is a plus for all. That is certainly enough for at least one big smiley face.
Frowns All Around
Why the frowny face for the announcement that St. Mike's has become the third local college to have its part-time faculty organize a union [Last 7: Facing Facts, December 3]? Union representation is critical in correcting the inherent power imbalance between administrators, who often exhibit misguided focus on short-term and flashy projects at the expense of education, and part-time faculty, who have little clout and often no job security.
Adjunct faculty are notoriously overworked and underpaid, while they perform an increasingly large percentage of undergraduate teaching over the past few decades. At many schools they form the backbone of undergraduate instruction, particularly in introductory courses critical to student success and retention.
Unions brought us the eight-hour workday, the weekend and a broad middle class. Union membership is currently at 11 percent, its lowest point since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the recent economic "recovery" is the first one in U.S. history in which middle-class incomes have not risen. While the flow of wealth to the very top of our society has many causes, the historically low union membership rate is an important part of the picture. Anything that bucks this trend should be cause for celebration!
Unions help everyone — at least everyone outside of the top 1 percent.
**Editor's note: We goofed! The face should have been a happy one. P.S. Seven Days has published numerous stories about the plight of the adjunct professor.