Hello Winooski, this week’s update is a long one and includes info on planned roadwork, the City's finances, new youth programming, the search for a new City Manager, and my statement on North End Studios.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) joined our City Council meeting on Monday to discuss repairs planned for the rotary this summer. Between May and October, there will be a few weeks here and there with evening work to repair the concrete slabs and reduce the bumps in the rotary. We'll be sure to share the Vtrans updates on this project whenever they are available. You can view the project fact sheet here.
On a related topic, while it is getting warmer out, the Department of Public Works will begin repainting striping and crosswalks near Main and Tigan at the end of April, then focusing on East Allen in May/June and doing crosswalks in July. DPW is also gearing up for a new street-sweeping program that begins in May, where street parking will be prohibited from 2 AM to 2 PM on the day your street is cleaned. Please see this update and view the project map.
I would also like to let folks know that staff has reached out regarding residents hearing train noise at night. New England Central Railroad confirmed that an overnight train has been running through Winooski 3 - 4 times a week for years now and that the horn decibel/frequency are set by federal regulation and cannot be changed.
The Q3 Treasurer’s update on city finances is now available, and it shows that our pandemic recovery is looking good. Click here to view the report. Also related to the pandemic, City Council recently received a housing stability update, noting that Winooski residents are feeling more confident they can pay their rent or mortgage. You can view the update here. Although we're happy to know that things are improving, we know that many still struggle. Many resources can be found on our COVID-19 page here: winooskivt.gov/covid-19.
In case you missed it, my last episode of "In the World of Winooski" featured City Manager Jessie Baker, WSD Superintendent Sean McMannon, and USCRI Executive Director Amila Merdzanovic who joined me to reflect on our joint pandemic efforts as we hit the 1-year mark. You can watch this episode here.
I'm excited to announce that our Community Services Department has partnered with the Winooski School District to provide more youth programming, made possible by the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund. We are planning to expand our Thrive After School program, add new summer camp and pool programs, provide early childhood reading groups, and revitalize our summer teen employment program. This funding is available for 4 years, so stay tuned for a lot more information as this all comes together. Click here to learn more.
Last week, our City Manager Search Committee kicked off their work by discussing key skills and experience to seek in our next manager. The committee will meet again on Monday to prioritize qualifications and discuss questions for candidate interviews. The meeting is open to the public and we’d love to have you join, even if just for a moment to share your thoughts - or you can always contact me directly. View the agenda and participation info here.
On a somber note, some weeks ago City staff received first-hand reports of harassing behavior on the part of Ben Bergstein of North End Studios operating at the O’Brien Community Center. We quickly issued a notice of default on the lease and a no-trespass order barring Mr. Bergstein from all city property. Staff and Council are very concerned about the harm that he has caused in our community. In response, the Vermont Performing Arts League (who owns the lease) has committed to keep Mr. Bergstein from any programmatic activity, are undertaking an investigation, and are developing policies they believe will prevent future harm. We are monitoring this situation very closely and are prepared to take action if the League’s response does not satisfy us that our community will be protected. Today I call on the Vermont Performing Arts League to make a public statement condemning the harm that was done to our neighbors and to our community. I call on them to publicly share how they are addressing this harm and how they will ensure systemic change to prevent future harm.
If you would like to report any concerning experiences, please reach out to our Human Resources Manager, Phoebe Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Kristine Lott
email@example.com / 802 766 1988