Welcome to the BPRW City Hall Park Project Update Page!
BPRW will be posting all the latest information on City Hall Park right here to help inform you on upcoming plans and construction details of the project.
Plans for City Hall Park have been refined extensively since 2011 as a result of public and stakeholders’ input. First through the Imagine City Hall Park Process in the summer of 2011, and then as part of the Great Streets Initiative.
To address questions and comments we’ve heard to date, we’ve created an FAQs page. It’s full of information and we’ll continue to update it as more questions come in.
Scroll down for our regular updates about the project’s progress.
The new City Hall Park continues to take shape, with most progress in the past month taking place underground; structures that will eventually be all but invisible to park users, but so important to the focal point and longevity of the urban space, have been installed. Vaults that will hold the water electrical systems that run the central fountain are constructed. The jets and lights, remotely programmable, are ready to be activated once the park is completed.
Winter is Coming
As crews are working diligently to progress as much as possible on completing the fine grading and hardscape while the weather allows, they are also stabilizing the site for the winter. In mid-to-late December, construction will pause for the winter months and select parking and sidewalk facilities will once again be accessible to the public until construction resumes in the spring. Sidewalks on Main St. and St. Paul St. will be fully open. The sidewalk on the south (park) side of College St. will remain closed for the winter to allow the contractor space to store equipment and the construction trailer.
Under the Surface: Green Stormwater Features and the Splash Fountain
The park’s design includes green stormwater infrastructure (gsi) through rain gardens to support long term tree health and viability while managing stormwater from typical rain events on-site. Additionally, the rain gardens will provide multi-sensory interest, pollinator and bird habitat and carbon sequestration. Again, the hidden, underground components of this infrastructure perform vital work, and now is the time to glimpse the underground hardware before they become buried in topsoil and plantings. The largest rain garden is along the western boundary of the park, at the Main/St. Paul Intersection, which can easily be seen before it receives two inches of soil.
The main features in the park have a myriad of supporting infrastructure underground. Much of this is already installed and will never be seen by the public eye. Here’s a peek at the control vault and the backflow prevention vault that have been installed.
The fountain jets are also installed. Each one has lights and can be programmed remotely to turn off and on and vary the timing.
The largest rain garden can be seen on the west side of City Hall Park along St. Paul Street. This deep feature is ready to have about 2 feet of soil added to it, creating ample capacity for this large rain garden to capture and absorb stormwater runoff.
The southern rain garden infrastructure has been installed with overflow piping connected to the catch basins.
Hardscape: The Park Flow Along the Walkways
The contractor is installing ample depths of subbase, typically compacted, crushed gravel, to promote drainage and structural stability, under the paved areas of the park, including the primary diagonal path. Many of the hard surfaces are covered with pervious systems, typically concrete unit pavers laid on a special, well-drained base system designed to allow water to flow through quickly, and occasionally, the space between the open larger crushed rocks, can help stormwater pass to the ground after heavy rainfall. The size and location of the wakways and gathering spaces have been carefully considered and designed to provide enough surface for the large number of people who use the park, to reduce negative impacts associated with turf destruction, soil compaction and the associated erosion that plagued both the turf and the trees in the old park.
In the spring, the crew will begin to work on the paths that feature a variety of materials. Recently, staff and landscape architects reviewed a selection of pavers.
The grey pavers will be used for certain sections near the fountain and the red bricks for the north-south Park Lane. These warm tones will complement the brickwork of the BCA Firehouse building. There will also be accents of granite and custom concrete, and metal too. All these elements will add visual textural appeal and spatial delineation.
Last week our tree team assisted with air spading treatment around some of the trees. At first glance, it might not look much different on the surface, but the treatment refreshes the soils and removes the heavy compaction that has occurred over the decades of high traffic. In addition, the soil surrounding these trees have been amended with nutrient rich soils. Most of the 31 remaining trees will get this treatment.
We’re getting ready to plant new trees in the park. A stack of Silva Cells is awaiting the delivery of special structural soil to be installed beneath the pavement. Silva Cells and structural soil work together to help reduce soil compaction, while supporting traffic loads (and in some cases, also helping to accommodate utilities). By reducing compaction, roots are healthier, trees are healthier and in turn, the soil retains the air pockets it needs to hold and absorb stormwater. These systems will support the few trees that are to be planted in the paved areas, while an additional 18 trees will be planted in new soils throughout the park landscape.
All of the concrete work for the three retaining/seat walls is complete. The seatwalls are: the Main Street wall, a wall next to BCA, and the main seat wall at the edge of the fountain area. These will all have future levels of finishing details such as granite tops and side veneer. The BCA wall will be accented with metal for a unique touch.
Of course there’s more to these than meet the eye. Each has substantial bases and proper drainage to ensure their durability.
With about one more month before winter shut-down, the construction team will be adding some additional features to prepare for the work in the spring, including; installing irrigation vaults, and adding bases for lighting, the flag pole and public art.
Upcoming parking changes and sidewalk closure
From October 7 – October 11, Main St. west bound will be restricted to one lane, giving the contractor room to work on the substantial rain garden at that corner. Additionally, the adjacent sidewalk at the NE corner of Main and St. Paul, and several of the Main St. parking spaces on the park side will be closed. Carshare VT pod (Ginger) will be temporarily relocated a few spaces east towards City Hall.
Please use caution when traveling through the construction area. Since the roadway will be narrowed to one lane, a flagger will be posted at the intersection to direct traffic turning left. Please note that westbound tractor trailers may not be able to turn right.
SD Ireland is doing one of the things it does best… concrete!
The retaining wall at the south end is nearing completion. Check out the beautiful board-formed patterns next time you walk down Main Street. This wall not only functions to add seating along the edge of the park, it forms the base of the rain garden at the south west corner that will catch and filter rainwater before it reaches the stormwater pipes.
The general contractor is preparing for the arrival of the specialty subcontractor that will begin work installing the plumbing, pumps and controls for the splash pad. The concrete stairs are taking shape in the center of the park and the plaza behind the BCA building for the Artists Market and other events like their weekly concerts in the park.
Urban soils in the park have been remediated through deep burial and capping. This strategy protects the public while avoiding the cost and footprint of trucking and landfilling soil impacted by decades of industrial land use.
After obtaining City Council approval on Monday night, BPRW tree crews removed two struggling sugar maples after a recommendation by City Arborist VJ Comai.
These trees have been in decline for several years and have required the removal of dead wood from their canopies in each of the last three years as their decline has been accelerating. City Arborist V.J. Comai determined both of these trees to be in poor condition in his assessment of the trees in the park during the DRB proceedings and that condition rating was confirmed by an independent arborist hired by Keep The Park Green.
By removing the trees now, it will give the contractor the ability to mitigate the urban soils in these areas by burying them on site and will avoid the added expense of a more challenging removal and the measurable extra challenge to manage remaining urban soils once the park is completed and soil mitigation should they be left until after the project has been completed.
Two additional, more urban tolerant trees will be planted to take their places, fulfilling the requirements placed on the new park project by City Council.
Past Street Closures & Utility Connections
Utility connection took a few days longer than predicted, but all the work was completed, including two unrelated repairs that otherwise would have gone undetected. Crews managed to address the re-discovered communication vault that needed repair during that same street closure, preventing a future road block.
Other utility work focused around the foundations of our buildings City Hall and the BCA
Firehouse. That included cutting and capping of old utilities that might have been leaking and a new gas line port was installed for BCA. These new utilities mean we’re adding a drinking fountain into the park. We’ve already picked the color. Can’t go wrong with grey!
With fewer than 70 working days until winter shut down there’s still much work to do, we’ll be back in October with another update.
8/30 Update: College Street Re-Closure
Here’s the Good News:
City Hall Park contractors working on the utility connection work on College Street pulled out of the works site early on Thursday, 8/29 and the street has been reopened to all traffic. The street excavated area has been repaved to ensure there is a safe surface for the upcoming Burlington Criterium bike race on Monday, the annual urban race through the downtown area on as part of the Green Mountain Stage Races. (https://thegmbc.com/stage-racing/ ). The street is fully open and parking restored on the north side of College between St. Paul St. and Church St.
The Not-So-Good News:
During the work this week, contractor was not able to do the final connection to the water lines to connect into City Hall Park. They will need to re-excavate the site next week to finish up. Work will begin after the holiday weekend, on September 3rd. Starting at 7am on Tuesday, the contractor will reopen the exaction near the entrance to City Hardware.
In addition, while performing routine sewer cleaning and inspection work last week, the City discovered a broken sewer main in front of Community Bank, N.A., just east of the City Hall Park utility work. This urgent repair will take place at the same time as the final City Hall Park work to minimize interruptions.
In order to access the site, the entire block of College street west of Church will be closed to traffic. This will impact the local bank drive-through for that day. Work should be completed quickly, and they can reopen the roadway as soon as possible to allow access to the drive-through. We are looking forward to a quick repair, and appreciate your patience as we work hard to make Burlington (and our underground infrastructure) better.
And… Another Discovery:
During the utility connection work for the park, the contractor also discovered a failing communication vault that will need to be replaced. This is also located east of the current utility connection area. This repair/replacement is being coordinated by DPW and the communication utility companies. Be prepared for further details about this work, which will likely involve an additional closure of a portion of College St. in September.
Questions? CONTACT US
For question regarding the two newest additions to the city’s underground utility work – the sewer and communication vault repairs – please reach out to Robert Goulding 802-863-9094 .
General Inquiries and Feedback: Diana Wood (802) 865-7089
COLLEGE STREET CLOSURE: 8/26 – 8/30 Saint Paul St. – South Winooski Avenue
To provide water supply to the splash pad and other utility infrastructure upgrades serving the new City Hall Park, contractors will close College Street from Monday 8/26 at 7am through the end of the day on Friday, 8/30.
Local traffic will be able to access College between South Winooski and the drive-through ATM just east of the Burton Store and other driveways. Excavation will occur at or near City Hardware and the road will be impassable.
There will be NO PARKING on College street west of Church St to allow for vehicle turnaround.
The sidewalk on the northern side of College St will remain open.
We are NOT expecting there to be any disruption of water service during this project. But be warned that water may be discolored, due to disturbances in the lines.
Additionally, DPW will be posting electronic message boards on College Street the week of the 19th to notify of the upcoming closure.
BPRW staff will be visiting affected businesses on Monday, August 19 in the late afternoon. If you are unable to connect with them in person, feel free to contact them via email or telephone.
All existing hardscape has been removed and salvageable materials moved off-site. The contractor is currently working on the management of urban soils, that will be buried under 6″ of clean topsoil when the park is complete. This process is overseen by a qualified environmental professional and done in accordance with a plan developed with and approved by the State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
The City is making sure to remedy longstanding issues along the way, including the abandonment of a leaking water line that serviced the old fountain, and sealing the City Hall foundation that the pipe previously passed through.
You also may have noticed the fence expansion toward City Hall. This was done in preparation for work to begin on the southern concrete retaining wall. The City Hall ’emergency only’ exit has been moved to egress through the alley between the building and BCA.
Late July update
WORK BEGINS ON CITY HALL PARK!
Contractors enclosed City Hall Park with construction fencing on July 10th in preparation for the major overhaul scheduled to be completed in 2020. Previous to that, staff from Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) and Community & Economic Development Office(CEDO) reached out to businesses surrounding the park to inform of them of the impending construction start date. BPRW also worked with Howard Center Street Outreach Team and the Burlington Police Department to meet with the daily park users in order to facilitate their transition of out of the construction zone, and where appropriate, make them aware of facilities and programs in the City.
On Monday, July 15, the BPRW Trees & Greenways Team, led by City Arborist V.J. Comai, removed 20 existing trees, half of which were determined to be in poor or fair/poor condition in a 2018 assessment. Remaining trees were pruned to remove deadwood to improve structure and health. The BPRW tree crew worked efficiently in two teams, finishing the work the following morning, saving the City over $10,000 by performing this work, while best insuring remaining trees and their root systems were not impacted. Comai reported that several of the trees removed had significant trunk decay and crown decline, and would have had to be removed as hazardous trees due to a high likelihood of structural failure. BPRW looks forward to the stewardship of a park planted with new trees that are more appropriate to urban conditions, have a more diverse array of species and age class, and are supported with an investment in underground infrastructure for healthy roots.
SALVAGE & DEMOLITION
The general contractor followed with demolition of existing concrete and other masonry infrastructure, which will be crushed and recycled into structural sub-base for use in local projects. Valuable items, such as granite cobbles and clay brick, were salvaged and will be reused elsewhere. Historic elements, such as the fountain and monument, were all packaged and moved to another City facility for storage during the construction. The monument will be reinstalled in City Hall Park next spring, while the fountain will relocated elsewhere in the future.
Parking – Currently the contractor has kept the parking and sidewalk on St. Paul St open while work continues on St. Paul Street. This is subject to change as the project progresses. Limits of construction will eventually include approximately 30 parking spaces including the current blocked 3 spaces on College street near the fence gate, and another 3 on Main street near the south construction gate. For information about all the nearby available parking, please see the newly designed Park Burlington Map.
Sidewalks – There is complete sidewalk closure on the south side of College Street. Main street sidewalk will remain open, with minimal closures as needed to accommodate construction.
Construction Traffic – There will be increased trucks traveling around the park. They will predominately be using Main street and St. Paul street, but will occasionally use College street to access the site.
Crews putting up fencing to prepare for work on improvements to City Hall Park
On July 10th, crews began putting up construction fencing at City Hall Park to prepare for construction of park improvements. The park will be closed to the public starting today, with a goal of re-opening in fall of 2020. With this work, the City will be embarking on the first substantial improvement to the park in years.
Construction Period Impacts
Sidewalks – The construction will require complete sidewalk closure on the east side of St. Paul Street and the south side of College Street. The sidewalk on Main Street will remain open, with construction entrances that cross the sidewalk and minimal closures as needed to accommodate construction.
Parking – Construction will result in the temporary closure of some parking spaces adjacent to the park, beginning with the east side of St. Paul Street and College Street near the north side of the park. The City is working with the contractor to minimize space closures until public parking is re-opened on the blocks of St. Paul Street that are currently under construction, and the public should be aware of signs and meter bags that will indicate which parking spaces are available. Three spaces on Main Street near City Hall will also be impacted by a construction gate. For information about all the nearby available parking, please see the newly designed Park Burlington Map.
SD Ireland may be on-site at any time between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, and between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturdays . If the contractor needs to work outside of these hours notification will be posted on the projects website.
Summary of City Hall Park Improvements
The City Hall Park improvement project is designed to reinvigorate this vital public space in the heart of Burlington’s downtown. When work is complete, City Hall Park will be home to 48 healthy trees with room to grow (compared with 51 trees today, more than half of which are in declining health), more than 1,500 new perennials and grasses, two new rain gardens to mitigate stormwater runoff and soil erosion, pervious pavers that help increase accessibility and focus foot traffic away from lawns, realigned park paths that allow for greater accessibility and healthier trees, better accommodations for the Farmers Market on busy summer Saturdays, a multi-functional fountain, new public art, and double the amount of seating within the park. The City Hall Park improvements will create a park that is greener, more accessible, and better suited to its use in the center of the city.
This project is the culmination of a revitalization effort that began with more than 500 Burlingtonians participating in the Reimagine City Hall Park planning process in 2011, and continuing through more than 20 public meetings that spanned 2016-2018. For a full history of the project and more information, see: enjoyburlington.com/city-hall-park-improvements
Previous to any specific announcements about construction starting, staff from BPRW, DPW and CEDO spent time speaking with local business surrounding the parks. We did door-to-door outreach, scheduled two public meetings, and presented at the Burlington Business Association, informing everyone about the proposed timeline and impacts to the vicinity. This presentation: 20190612 CHP June Business Meeting – updated for DAG 071219
To find information about ALL of the construction projects and improvements happening in Burlington, check out the City’s Construction Portal