Hello Neighbors, It’s my pleasure to present this week’s update on happenings in the City and on City Council.
New City Manager – Welcome Elaine Wang
City Council formally appointed Elaine Wang to be our new City Manager – please join me in welcoming her to Winooski! She is coming to us from Barre Town with extensive experience in public administration, community engagement, and municipal governance. We are thrilled to have her join the staff in May, and I hope you’ll take a moment to learn a bit more about her in our press release.
Mask Mandate Lifted and COVID-19 Relief Funds Survey
With the most recent wave of COVID-19 receding and low community impacts, City Council voted to lift the mandate for mask-wearing in all indoor public places, effective immediately. We encourage everyone to continue following guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and to respect individuals who will continue to wear their masks indoors. Please continue to care for and support each other! Vaccines and booster shots are always available and are the most important tool in fighting the pandemic - for additional details, please visit healthvermont.gov/covid-19.
In related news, the City of Winooski is actively seeking input on how to spend $2.1 million in federal funds to best support our collective recovery from the pandemic. Please tell us about the negative impacts you've experienced by taking this very quick survey. We're also accepting COVID-19 Recovery Business Grant Applications - has your Winooski business suffered sustained revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic? You may be eligible for emergency grant funding that can help support your business. Click here to learn more.
Equity Work in the City
During our last City Council meeting, we had an amazing discussion with our Equity Director, Yasamin Gordon, who provided an update on the many equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts underway in Winooski. Our equity audit is nearly complete, with a focus on housing, voting, and workforce, providing us a valuable look at how we can lower barriers and increase support for underrepresented groups to participate and thrive in these areas. A community presentation of the results will take place on April 18. In addition, building on nearly three years of work, Council discussed a proposed Inclusion and Belonging Advisory Commission. This Commission’s purpose will be to ensure that the people and processes informing decision-making in the City reflect the diversity within our community, working through our various commissions as well as advising Council directly. This is a truly exciting moment, and Council is eager to continue discussions at the next meeting.
Master Plan Goal Update: Economic Vitality
We are restarting monthly updates on our Master Plan goals this month and received a progress report on activities that support economic vitality in the City. These include the equity work discussed above, but I wanted to highlight some of the other good work City staff has done in this area. A grant-funded mentoring program for women and non-binary City employees is up and running, bringing in additional resources and support our employees need to excel. Updates to the zoning governing our gateway districts were approved by City Council, including new incentivizes for sound insulation and energy efficiency for redevelopment. Wayfinding signs to help visitors and residents navigate our City and get to our businesses are being created, and will be installed this spring. Finally, progress continues on the redevelopment of 17 Abenaki Way, with negotiations complete on the major items. This work is critical to supporting our Community’s economic vitality, and you can read more in the full update here.
Feel free to reach out at any time,
Deputy Mayor Jim Duncan - firstname.lastname@example.org