No sooner does Burlington City Councilor Tom Ayres - who found his way here from New York - buy a home that once housed Bruce I-Don't-Need-A-Permit Baker and his lovely wife Mary I-Don't-Need-A-Permit-Either Lee, than he starts lobbying to dig up North Avenue and start changing what has been working fine, thank you, for a hundred years or more.
Yup, the smiling New-York-born Ayres wrote a column in The North Avenue Snooze talking about making changes, like installing round-abouts.
Maybe round-abouts and fixing things that aren't broke work in New York, which is where Ayres hails from.
Then he moves to Burlington and needs to fix it?
Must be something in the water at 61 Saratoga Avenue, huh?
After all, that's where Baker lived before he bought a house in the south end and turned it into an unlawful home occupation:
Well, as Burlington native Dan Cohen wrote to Ayres:
"There is nothing wrong.
"Traffic moves fine, bicycles move fine, pedestrians move fine.
"And, you are talking about making changes, like installing round-abouts and all that crap?
"Please leave North Avenue, and everything associated with it, alone."
Councilor Ayres responds:
- Skewed intersections at such locations as Plattsburgh Avenue and Shore Road
- The tendency for drivers to routinely proceed at excessive rates of speed along portions of the avenue, requiring some sort of speed mitigation effort
- An inadequate number of pedestrian crosswalks along the full length of the avenue, posing a danger to pedestrians, particularly children, the elderly, and people with disabilities
- Several dangerous sections where bicyclists (and there are an increasing number of them f all ages in our neighborhoods) are forced to ride north and south in vehicular traffic – the southernmost stretch of the avenue being a prime example
The North Avenue Corridor Study is part of the "Complete Streets" initiative, a program of VTRANS intended to conceive and develop traffic corridors that are amenable to all forms of transportation – vehicular, public transport, bicycles, and pedestrians. When you claim that there is "nothing wrong" and that traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians "move fine," I wonder what studies or data you can cite to back up your claim. I also wonder if the curb jut-outs on Brookes Avenue have truly proven to be "dangerous," as you assert, and if there are instances of accidents or pedestrian injuries that have resulted from the jut-outs, which are typically used to slow traffic in congested residential neighborhoods.
Regarding speed bumps, I, too, am dubious about their use – and I know this echoes the feeling of many transportation planners and traffic engineers, who have increasingly advocated for other means of speed mitigation in densely populated residential areas.
Regarding former Burlington Director of Public Works Steve Goodkind, you should know that he left office a year ago. The current DPW director is Chapin Spencer.
As far as your voice being heard on this matter is concerned, I would suggest that if you reread my North Avenue News column, you'll find that I did not endorse any specific plans of action for North Avenue – I simply highlighted the fact that roundabouts, a full-length bike path or other bicycle accommodations, and significant intersection upgrades were among the concepts under discussion as part of the Corridor Study. I also urged my New North End friends and neighbors to attend the final public workshop of the Corridor Study, which was held at St. Mark's Family Center on May 20. There were nearly 100 people in attendance, many of them critical of some of the concepts being explored by the study. I'm sorry that you did not avail yourself of this public opportunity to make your thoughts known. Rest assured, however, that there is still time for your critical input. You can view all of the materials and concepts generated by the Corridor Study to date at this web address: http://bit.ly/north-ave, and you can add your input and concerns at this web site:www.burlingtonvt.gov/public-input.
Lastly, I fail to see the relevance of your question as to whether I was born in Burlington or the New North End. I live in the Village Green neighborhood, where a substantial number of homes have changed hands in the past 5 to 10 years. I see this pattern holding true throughout the whole New North End. New residents of the New North End – young families with children in their first homes, New Americans who emigrated to America and Vermont as refugees from foreign wars and conflicts, retirees who have relocated here to be close to children and grandchildren – are every bit as much a part of our community as lifelong residents such as yourself. Their voices need to be heard and their concerns addressed, just as readily as yours or mine.
One thing is constant over the course of our lives (I'm almost the same age as you, by the way):
Burlington is a very different place from what it was in 1950 or even in 1990, when I moved here. Change is inevitable. Embracing it – or at least making certain that your voice is heard in shaping it – is the best path forward. It is the responsibility of all of us in a civil, respectful society. No one is ever going to be happy with every decision made by our elected leaders and public officials. That's the nature of democracy.
Burlington City Councilor, Ward 7