CNAPC Reviews Draft Concepts

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Thursday March 24, 2016

Imagine driving into the airport neighborhood, passing through welcoming gateways, admiring public art, and stopping at whimsical crosswalks for pedestrians.

The Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee is exploring ideas to re-invent a neighborhood that has seen great change since the FAA funded demolition of nearly a hundred homes.

The CNAPC convened on March 16 to hear consultants review draft concepts of neighborhood enhancements as well as suggestions/improvements for institutional arrangements.

Neighborhood Enhancements

Members and the public were given a feedback worksheet with guided and open-ended questions to measure the level of interest of the proposed enhancements. Skip Smallridge of Carole Schlessinger and Smallridge (CSS) revisited the civic enhancements portion and shared the results from the February 18 feedback worksheet; a small sample size of 11 participants. Of those answers, gateways received the highest positive response, followed by whimsical crosswalks, lamppost banners, and public art. Playful bike racks and planting strips received positive feedback, as well. Painted streets did not receive as much interest.

Conner reminded members that these small surveys help give the committee and the consultants a sense of which ideas and questions they’d like to pose to the public at its next public workshop. Juli Beth Hinds of Orion Planning & Design said that the worksheets will be available online as a fillable PDF so that they can continue to report on public feedback.

Smallridge introduced other enhancements for participants to score on the second worksheet. Would the public entertain more benches? Could there be interest in having “miniature museums” or a fitness trail, which, according to Smallridge, would be a fairly low-cost item? Plant and tree labels were suggested as a teaching opportunity for children, and free-lending libraries, some of which already exist in the city, could create a community-bonding amenity. Members were agreeable to the idea of birdhouses, as well, and even posed the possibility of bat houses and owl houses.

In regard to enhancements to homes, Smallridge went through a series of front porch layouts, which would require zoning changes if it draws in strong favoritism. He showed porches varying from six feet to 12 feet, small and full length porches, and covered and uncovered porches.

Furthermore, use of the public Right-of-Way to include additional fences, hedges with border plantings, front yard gardens, and pedestrian-scale street lighting gave way to additional visioning.

Smallridge then introduced the possibility of adding trails and/or interpretive parkland on the acquisition land.

“If we invest in terms of trails and parks and things of that nature on this property, doesn’t that put any and all material resources as well as monetary resources at risk if the airport today says it’s ok but tomorrow it’s not?” member George Maille asked.

“In the interest of providing potential feedback to the airport about what you may be interested in, there’s no harm in posing the suggestion,” Conner said.

Institutional Arrangements and Information Pathways

Smallridge turned the presentation over to Hinds, who reviewed the institutional arrangements section.

In order, she reviewed arrangements with the airport and Chamberlin School, consideration of paths, trails and recreation, plans for community resilience and social networking, and ideas for transportation enhancements as well as visual enhancements.

For the airport, Hinds asked the committee to consider what is most important to the neighborhood’s quality of life. The noise subcommittee’s recommendation will also assist with the neighborhood/airport communication.

As for Chamberlin School, identifying quality of life for the neighborhood now while the school is operating is equally as important, Hinds said. She asked the committee to consider how to be engaged proactively in the school district’s planning process. On that note, Carmen Sargent, chair of the CNAPC, encouraged everyone to attend the upcoming March 22 Master Planning & Visioning meeting.

Regarding neighborhood enhancements, Hinds posed overland trails--a network of formal and informal walking connections through the natural areas, neighborhood streets and public spaces. Visual enhancements could include neighborhood-specific logos using city branding guidelines or public art competitions. Sargent suggested working with the Vermont Council on the Arts, and member Karsten Schlenter suggested possibly involving schools in a public art project.

Hinds revisited the concept of road closures and one-ways near the airport as possible transportation enhancements. Staying actively involved with any future Williston Road and White Street changes should also be considered. If scoping for Airport Drive extension is initiated again, what type of notice and participation would the committee desire?
In order to provide a sense of unity and security, Hinds proposed the idea of building local networks to provide social resilience for communication, assistance, and support. This would address any potential “what if” scenarios the neighborhood may face. Setting up a neighborhood watch program, checking up on older neighbors, providing emergency kits, developing a community newsletter email list, or establishing a system to push event-related and emergency information, are just a few examples. What are the existing strengths of social networks in the neighborhood, and what additional external resources, in addition to the city, could be used?

The consultants will collect feedback from this meeting and discuss results at the CNAPC meetings in May. The committee will revisit transportation ideas at its next meeting on Thursday April 14.

There will also be a public workshop on Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m at the Burlington International Airport Second Floor Mezzanine to review The airport’s Land Use/Reuse plan, which will include a presentation and opportunity for public comment.

CNAPC Noise Subcommittee Update

George Maille, chair of the noise subcommittee under the CNAPC, said that the subcommittee is working out the details of a noise planning & zoning committee that will survive the CNAPC, which disbands after June 2016. The subcommittee discussed the future committee’s structure as well as its role and function. Committee members agreed to remove one member from the subcommittee, due to lowattendance and its effect on having a quorum.

Marc Companion, another subcommittee member, proposed having something akin to a contingency planning process for the neighborhood: what is the state, regional, and local plan if the neighborhood is incompatible for residential use, according to the FAA? This could be a project for the future, surviving noise planning & zoning committee could work on, Maille explained. The next subcommittee meeting is on March 23.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent