By Councilor Bryn Oakleaf
Hello, Winooski. For those that may not know, or remember, I serve as the City Council Liaison to the Municipal Infrastructure Commission (MIC) This summary covers our most recent meetings held on June 16th and July 21st. The MIC is comprised of five Council-appointed members. In their role, they support the implementation of Winooski’s Strategic Vision as outlined in the 2019 Master Plan. The Commission is charged with helping the City Council and staff “Invest in the City’s municipal infrastructure, including energy resources, facilities and technology; roads and sidewalks; and water, sewer, and stormwater lines and facilities.”
Over the last two months, the MIC has focused on reviewing the Priorities and Strategies that came out of the Council retreat on May 21st and were later affirmed during the June 6th Council meeting. To view these Priorities and Strategies, click here.
June’s MIC meeting covered City updates on the Vermont Agency of Transportation East Allen roadwork project, and a discussion on the Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to evaluate city-wide curb cuts and crosswalks. The MIC had a brief update on Efficiency Vermont’s walk-through of Department of Public Works garage, City Hall, and Fire Department to identify potential energy projects for their Communities Initiative funding. Council-related updates were also shared regarding the Planning Commission’s progress on housing density ordinance changes, and appointments to the Inclusion and Belonging Commission. The bulk of the time was spent discussing anticipated work plan needs for Fiscal Year ’23, especially as it relates to energy goals and some early budget requests for the next cycle. There has been continued interest to allocate funding for annual line striping. There’s growing interest to mitigate graffiti observed across the City with potential art projects as well.
Fast forwarding to July’s meeting, we were just shy of a member quorum, so no items were voted on. We moved forward with discussions from our guests from the Vermont Public Service Department (PSD), Green Mountain Power, and Efficiency Vermont. The representatives from PSD requested input from the Commission regarding their proposed Renewable & Clean Electricity Policies and Programs, specifically the Renewable Energy Standard (RES), driven by the statewide Comprehensive Energy Plan and Climate Action Plan. In addition to comments on RES itself, they were also seeking feedback on approaches to engage more members of the community on the topic to help inform policy direction. As part of this discussion, we also reviewed Winooski’s renewable energy achievements to date, and goals captured in the 2019 Winooski Enhanced Energy Supplement in the Master Plan. It was extremely insightful to have all three groups sit together with the Commission to discuss energy opportunities, goals, and assistance available. Some key areas of influence are to reduce energy demand, especially during peak times like the hottest and coldest days of the year, and to take advantage of opportunities to shift or “flex” demand outside of peak hours as well.
The Commission also received some excellent feedback during this meeting from our guests too. While the City does not have a formal Energy Committee of its own, the MIC was perceived to be well organized and poised to continue conversations that link to the Master Plan and can be proposed to Council for decision. The ability to have some delegated tasks from Council, and respect for proposals was identified as a key element to having impact on energy goals. This is a feather in the cap for Winooski’s approach to Commission structure and engagement! I’m excited to relay more from our next Commission meeting in September.
I encourage all Winooski residents interested in the City’s infrastructure to attend future Commission meetings. Look for announcements in the City notices and Front Porch Forum for the next meeting date in September, agenda, and how to join the conversation. To learn more, visit winooskivt.gov/infrastructure.
Please get in touch if you have comments or questions on the work of the Commission.
Bryn Oakleaf, firstname.lastname@example.org