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 large scale renderings of the plans. We’ll continue to update it as more questions come in. View or download the fact sheet: CityHallPark-Improvements-Handout
Burlington Re-Opens City Hall Park
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2020
Revived park designed to invite more use with double the seating, accessible pathways, multi-functional central fountain, healthier trees, three stormwater gardens, and more
Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced the re-opening of City Hall Park. The park’s transformation follows an imagining process that first began in 2011, years of public engagement and design work, and a year of construction, all aimed at bringing more life to this central public space in the heart of Burlington’s downtown.
“Jane Jacobs wrote that, ‘City parks need the boon of life conferred on them,’ and our primary goal with the transformation of City Hall Park was exactly that – to give it more life,” said Mayor Weinberger. “For many years, City Hall Park was amazing on summer Saturdays with the farmers market, but too often underused at other times. We could see that one of the great strengths of our city is public spaces like this one, and that we could create features that would help more people enjoy it, from a fountain that would be a destination for families, to twice as many benches where people can sit and talk, to spaces to support eating and small gatherings throughout the day. Even as the City works to steer Burlington through the coronavirus emergency, we also remain focused on long-term projects like this one that are an investment in our future. I hope the revived City Hall Park serves as a beacon of hope and renewal in these times.”
Overall, the revived City Hall Park is designed to be greener, more accessible, and better suited to its use in the center of the city. The features of the new City Hall Park include:
- Gardens: 384 shrubs and 3,435 perennials and ornamental grasses. All of the perennials, grasses, and shrubs were sourced from local growers. Many of them are species native to our region, and will be well-suited to the site, create pollinator habitat, and display color from May through October. The park includes a comprehensive irrigation system that will ensure the long-term health of the trees and turf.
- Stormwater: Three stormwater gardens to retain and filter stormwater, and one of the gardens includes additional below-ground structures to further hold stormwater during intense storm events. The park also features a seat wall that will help prevent stormwater from discharging onto Main Street and permeable pavers that will allow stormwater to infiltrate into the soil. Overall, the design will result in a 30 percent reduction in peak flow during a 1-year storm event and 52 percent reduction during a 10-year storm event – contributing to a healthier park and healthier Lake Champlain.
- Trees: 22 new trees, and 48 trees in total, only a slight reduction from the 51 trees formerly in the park. The trees now are planted in healthier soil that will no longer erode in every storm, in enough soil to support them to maturity, and with an eye toward the importance of having a diversity of tree species and ages in the park.
- Seating: Twice as much seating within the park boundaries, including seatwalls and longer benches made from sustainably sourced wood.
- Paths: Wider and more accessible pathways that maintain the historic connectivity across the park. The paths are realigned so that they are less steep, support better tree health, and allow for better maintenance.
- Spaces: Flexible spaces accommodate a variety of activities in the park, from an interactive fountain, to cultural programming, to a terrace and central plaza that could host food service for people to enjoy in the park and bring additional activation to the space.
- Fountain: A multi-functional fountain that can be used for active play, as well as light and water shows that will add visual impact.
- Public art: Art installed in the park includes the new Watersheds to the Lake, made from Champlain marble, gold paint, and granite cobble by artists Kat Clear and Tessa O’Brien, which highlights the relationship between Lake Champlain’s health and the impact of human activities along the watersheds that feed it.
- Landscape: The park design concentrates foot traffic away from grassy areas and creates space for gatherings, including through the use of permeable pavers, and actually reduces the amount of impervious surface in the park from 43 percent in the old park (25 percent hardscape and 18 percent compacted soils) to 32.5 percent in the new park.
- And more! The park includes a new restroom, lighting, irrigation, utilities, and much more to make it a safe, inviting, and functional space.
“Parks build community at all times, and that’s even more true in the middle of a pandemic,” said Cindi Wight, Director of Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. “We are thrilled to be reopening our core downtown park, creating an outdoor green space where our community can gather safely and supporting the outdoor lifestyle that so many Burlingtonians cherish.”
Project Background and Budget
The City Hall Park revitalization is the culmination of an effort that began with hundreds of Burlingtonians participating in the Imagine City Hall Park planning process in 2011, continued with the Great Streets planning process, and included more than 20 public meetings that spanned 2016-2018. Over the course of that process, landscape architects Wagner Hodgson and the City team worked to develop a design for the park that would be inspirational, responsive, and enduring.
Park construction began in July 2019, with a budget of $5.75 million for everything from planning work that began in May 2016 to the remediation of contaminated soils. The City used a combination of grant funds, stormwater revenues, TIF economic development funds, Champlain College payments, and philanthropic contributions secured by the Mayor. City staff performed additional work in-house in order to realize further savings. The funding sources used are virtually all restricted funds that can only be used for capital improvements or downtown infrastructure projects, and overall, the cost of the park to property taxpayers is less than $1 million.
Except for a short delay caused by the pandemic construction shut down, construction went very smoothly, resulting in a rare $125,000 mid-construction budget reduction, and completion of the project with the durable, high-quality finishes that were originally designed but at risk of being cut for budget reasons.
A detailed summary of the project budget is available online.
Dedication of City Hall Park Renovations to Burlington Residents Who Died of Covid-19
The re-opening of City Hall Park comes as Burlington is seven months into a pandemic that has required wearing masks, physical distancing, and many other actions that couldn’t have been imagined at this time last year – including ceasing many of the gatherings that are a core strength of cities and of central public spaces like City Hall Park.
At the re-opening ceremony, Mayor Weinberger announced that the park renovations are dedicated to the Burlington residents who died as a result of Covid-19. “The time is coming when it will be hard to remember this pandemic, its dramatic impact on our lives, and the members of the community who we have lost to it,” Mayor Weinberger said, and unveiled a plaque installed in the park. The plaque reads:
“A comprehensively redesigned City Hall Park re-opened after a year of construction amidst the largest global pandemic in 100 years. At the time of the opening, the City had been living under an emergency order for more than six months, masks were required in all public places, and group gatherings were severely restricted. This park renovation is dedicated to the Burlingtonians who died as a result of the novel Covid-19 coronavirus. In the years to come, as children play in jets of water and crowds assemble to enjoy each other and our city’s great music, food, and events, let us never forget that these joyous scenes are fragile, and that their continuation can only be guaranteed through an ongoing, vigilant commitment to public health and science.”
Support for City Hall Park
The reopening ceremony for City Hall Park included many people who were involved in the vision for the transformed park. Students from King Street Center, a neighbor of the park, were there to countdown as the new fountain officially started for the first time, and other park neighbors and people who worked to create the park shared their reflections on the park transformation. These included:
“I can only think in superlatives when I think about the new City Hall Park,” said Doreen Kraft, Director of Burlington City Arts. “We began the journey to redesign our City’s crown jewel 10 years ago with Imagine City Hall Park, and have more than accomplished what we set out to do. This new park allows for a greater diversity of experiences, increased safety and accessibility, greener infrastructure, and more interactive features that will bring us all together in the midst of tremendous art, historic reminders, and verdant beauty.”
“The vitality of City Hall Park reflects the vitality of Burlington,” said Thomas Leavitt, President and CEO of Northfield Savings Bank. “A healthy, safe, inclusive ‘front yard’ for all citizens is essential to our City’s character. We are a vested neighbor and look forward to supporting programming that will enhance access and equity in this beautiful new space.”
“We are honored to have been involved in ushering in a new era for City Hall Park and are excited to see people enjoying the Park once again,” said Jeff Hodgson, Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture. “This is truly the ‘living room’ of the community and we thank all of the people who worked so hard to bring it to fruition.”
“We have learned a great deal in the nearly 40 years since any significant changes were made to City Hall Park,” said V.J. Comai, City Arborist. “We have learned about the importance of mitigating stormwater runoff and how plants can be incorporated into built structures to help achieve this goal. We have learned about proper planting of trees to ensure their long-term health and which species are best suited to specific sites. We have learned how to incorporate trees into hardscape areas in public spaces that will provide them with adequate soil volumes to support them to maturity. We have learned about the importance of having a diversity of trees species and age classes of trees in our urban spaces. And we have learned about the importance of supporting the health of pollinator populations through the use of native plants that supply what they need to thrive. We believe in science, so we incorporated all of what we have learned into the design and reconstruction of this park and the results are visible here today. The ecological health of this park has been restored, and most importantly, it has been done in such a way that it will be sustainable and will thrive for future generations.”
“What a thrill to see the City’s commitment for a beautiful new park finally come to reality,” said Ernie Pomerleau, Pomerleau Real Estate and Pomerleau Family Foundation. “Having played in this park as a child when it was filled with huge Elm trees, we continue to enjoy it in its new form, and many changes have occurred through a natural process over time. Now, to have been able to help create a truly beautiful and handicap accessible park and fountain for children, in memory of our sister Anne Marie who was a quadriplegic, is truly a wonderful moment for our family and community.”
“I’m excited to walk through the park, climb the stairs, and balance by the water fountain with the children again,” said Myle Truong, a teacher at the nearby King Street Center. “It will be great for them to recognize that space as a part of their community.”
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Scroll down for our regular updates about the project’s progress.
Join us for the grand Re-Opening Celebration on October 16&17
for two days there will be a host of performances, films, community projects and tours. Get more details from BCA.
June 2020 Update
CITY HALL PARK ON SCHEDULE FOR OCTOBER OPENING!
It’s nice to see some construction moving along as planned. The crews at City Hall Park are on track to wrap things up by October!
Immediate parking impacts on St. Paul St
Starting THIS Friday, all of the diagonal parking on the east/park side of St. Paul Street will be converted to a staging space for materials to complete work on the park. While crews have been careful to minimize impacts on parking surrounding the park, as the work progresses and final surface materials are installed, there is less space to keep materials within the park boundaries without damaging work that has been done.
Here’s a quick update about what progressed in the park in June
Contractor and subcontractor crews have been hard at work for the past month, and many of the park’s finished surfaces are being installed. Much of the concrete paving, including some uniquely tinted a dark gray sections, have been installed to form the main walkways that cross the park, and the spacious new pedestrian-friendly sidewalk on Main Street.
The striking clean lines of the park’s masonry walls, featuring a hierarchy of board-form concrete, topped with Ansa stone and granite, are mostly completed. Beautifully refined precast concrete steps and floating stepping blocks draw you into the park from Main Street and across the southern rain garden. Most of the granite seatwalls and veneers were installed.
Under all the lawn, trees, plants and stone, lies an extensive network of utilities, all awaiting imminent activation and testing. Soon, the fountain jets will be pumping showing off the lighting system that will highlight the moving water, brighten the walkways and help make the park feel safe and inviting. Last bits of electrical work including the lampposts and extensive electrical panels to control all the elements of the park are nearly completed.
Electrical work that started in June will wrap up, including connecting the lampposts and extensive electrical panels to control all the elements of the park, such as the lighting and irrigation. These panels will eventually be concealed behind decorative fencing.
The project team of both City staff, contractors and consultants, are busy finalizing all of the finishing details that will set a new high bar for urban spaces in Downtown Burlington. With an eye on reducing the environmental and maintenance footprint of City Hall Park, the project team is evaluating the initial cost, lifetime costs in addition to aesthetic and ecological criteria in detail selection. Some examples of detailing including: the final colors for small items including gravel fill for the permeable paves, fill colors for concrete joints, planter colors and more. Most of these items are subtle things park users might not ever notice, but our landscape architects and planners recognize that these details matter to the overall look and function of all the park elements and how diverse elements bring the park ‘together’ through careful detail selection.
We’ve selected moveable furniture. A total of 74 chairs and 22 tables will be available for use throughout the park and specifically for areas near the fountain and the spaces along Park Lane we call Firehouse Plaza and College Street Terrace. Check out the colors and styles.
What’s coming up this July
Fresh topsoil is being added to the softscape where work has been completed. About 40% is done thus far. Sod will eventually be placed in all of the planned grassy areas throughout the park.
Planting of the rain gardens and new trees has begun! Our City Arborist ordered the plants and the tree team will water them until the irrigation system gets turned on later in July.
The Portland Loo will be arriving soon. Good news is that this purchase included the additional heating elements to keep the restroom facility open year-round! The Loo’s exterior mounted handwashing sink will be shut off and winterized during the cold months, but hand sanitizer will always be available.
Once these elements are completed,the final sections of concrete pouring for the center ellipse and performance space can begin.
After the central ellipse is poured, crews can start the installation of the pervious pavers. We’ve been working closely with the City stormwater team to maximize our stormwater management on-site. Proper Installation is a critical step in long-term functionality, coupled with a rigorous long-term maintenance plan to ensure the permeable sections function properly.
We’re planning for a test run of the fountain in August! We’ll be there to record the test and will share the sneak peek in a future update.
May 2020 Update
Construction During COVID-19
SD Ireland resumed construction in City Hall Park on May 11. As part of the new reality of working during a pandemic both contractor and inspector will be following CDC and State Guidelines on being safe in their work practices.
Impacts to Street Parking & Street Traffic
Effective immediately, the crew will be using the parking on College and as construction work heightens, the parking along St. Paul will likely utilized for additional crew members.
Beginning on June 2, the intersection at Main and St. Paul Streets will temporarily become a signed four-way stop as contractors relocate a signal box near the park entrance. Work there should only take a few days and will return to usual traffic signals by the weekend.
What’s Being Worked On
City Arborist will do some investigatory air spading to assess potential construction impacts on two trees on the east side of the park
Work will begin on the College Street Terrace, approved by City Council in December. This part of the project was re-added to the construction contract after cost savings had been realized early in the project. Additionally, improvements will be made between the seating wall along Main Street/ the southern boundary of the park, and the curb line, to unify the spaces before Great Streets Standards are implemented there in the future.
Affects to the Timeline
The delayed start of construction from March 23rd to May 11 comes with a shift in the estimated time for completion and reopening of City Hall Park. The new completion target is early October 2020.
Here’s some good news: City Hall Park Rehabilitation is currently on or slightly ahead of schedule. Contractors have successfully navigated through most of the unpredictable early site work, including extensive excavation work. Because of the smooth sailing, several of the material and design choices that were ‘value engineered’ out of the project before construction started, have been reinserted due to minimal/no expenditures for urban soil hauling/disposal and other efficiencies realized during active construction.
The slow start to winter has enabled contractors to extend the construction season a bit. The relatively warm and dry conditions created an opportunity for more work to be completed in 2019 and early in 2020, a longer construction season than originally anticipated, keeping the planned re-opening on track for late summer 2020.
Holiday Parking. Holiday Shopping
Our contractor and resident engineer did a standup job of reopening highly valuable parking spaces (eleven in total) in time for the busy Holiday shopping season. Thank you.
Another big thank you to the Burton Flagship store, Northfield Savings Bank and City Hardware for their roles in providing discounts and free food to the contractors and other team members whose hard work have made this project successful. On December 11th during a special “worker appreciation event”, the Burton Store and City Hardware provided merchandise discounts, while Northfield Savings Bank served hot dogs at their College Street location across from the park. We are grateful for the support (and patience!) of the local businesses all around the park. It’s been a pleasure to get to know everyone through our direct outreach!
While winter will see little or no construction activity at City Hall Park itself, preparation for the anticipated late summer/early fall opening of the park will continue over the winter. Vermont-based stone fabricators will be busy fulfilling a substantial order of granite and stone for use as caps and veneer on the concrete retaining and sitting walls, sitting blocks, curbing and other features. Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront’s Trees & Greenways team has been busy ordering the 20 trees, 328 shrubs, 2022 perennials and 594 ornamental grasses that will grace the parks when construction work is complete, in addition to the 1353 shrubs, perennials and grasses that will working hard to help filter and capture stormwater in the rain gardens.
College Street Terrace
Thanks to savings early in the project, the terrace at the northeast corner of the park will be constructed this summer, opening up another unique gathering space within the park.
A new start in the Spring
Work will resume as soon as weather allows, likely in early April, when installation of Silva Cells (underground chambers of special soil mix that helps trees thrive in urban areas by allowing roots to branch out under hard surfaces) resumes and work continues on installing gravel base for the concrete and paver surfaces in the park. BPRW’s team will install plant material as finish grades are achieved. Currently the project is on schedule to wrap up by early fall!
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
Business Related Concerns: Jon Adams-Kollitz (802) 540-0363
COLLEGE STREET CLOSURE:
8/26 – 8/30 Saint Paul St. – South Winooski Avenue
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.
Below is an estimate project schedule. Subject to change.
- Mid-July 2019 – salvage and demolition
- Summer through Fall 2019 – soil remediation, deep utility work (electric, irrigation, fountain plumbing etc)
- Winter 2019 – site will closed and secured
- Early Spring through late Summer 2020 – work to resume on completing earthwork, raingardens, lighting, walkways, fountain, final landscaping and tree planting etc
- Fall 2020 – park to reopen, with lawn closed to pedestrians
General Inquiries and Feedback: Diana Wood
Business Related Concerns: Jon Adams-Kollitz
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