Thursday August 23, 2018
Families, Chittenden County representatives, city staff, committee volunteers, and others gathered on a hot summer afternoon on Aug. 14 for the official grand opening of City Center Park, a public natural area that serves as a slice of paradise at the core of South Burlington’s City Center.
City Center Park — which is situated between Barrett Street, Iby Street, Market Street, and Dorset Street — is the first Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District-funded project to be constructed in South Burlington and sets into motion the larger vision for a South Burlington City Center. The parcel is adjacent to the Potash Brook tributary 3 and associated wetlands.
The process began 30 years ago when the city purchased the parcel from the Dumont Construction Company. In 2016, voters authorized the project through TIF District financing, and construction kicked off in the fall of 2018. The park was scheduled to be complete summer 2018.
The park incorporates a natural playground with a climbing structure, swings, and a pinwheel discovery area, as well as seating, boardwalks and bridges throughout the 0.8-mile trail network that forms a loop around the central area. The city also installed gravel wetlands at the end of Iby Street designed to collect and treat stormwater from the area before it runs into the tributary at Potash Brook, which eventually leads to Lake Champlain. A shared-use path will connect to City Center amenities on Market Street and Garden Street as well. With the help of volunteers, invasive species have been removed, and new plants have been added, all of which contributes to the city’s new initiative, “Let it Grow.”
“We wouldn’t be standing here celebrating this project without the strong vote back in 2017 from the citizens of South Burlington to approve bonding for the park and Market Street,” said City Council Chair Helen Riehle. “Thank you so much for believing in this vision.”
She also thanked the legislative delegation for expanding the TIF program to include South Burlington, the city staff and project team, volunteers, and many businesses that supported the effort.
Jennifer Kochman, chair of the Recreation and Parks Committee, acknowledged that the park design didn’t happen all by itself, and recognized residents who partook in visioning workshops.
“It happened with the input and enthusiasm of a great many people,” she said.
Kochman also thanked members of the public for their suggestions to the Recreation and Parks Department on what to name the park. Formally known as Dumont Park, the new “City Center Park” was a popular vote.
City Center Park earned a Public Places Award last year under its creator, LandWorks, a Middlebury-based firm which specializes in landscape architecture, planning, and graphic design.
“With the park, we’re able to give back to people the taxes they pay the city, something they can concretely see,” said Betty Milizia, co-chair of the Natural Resources Committee. “Urban life is very fast. At the park, you have an area where you can appreciate nature.”
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent