|Advocacy + Persistence = Infrastructure|
Advocacy + Persistence = Infrastructure
by Steve Norman
The above photo shows the Burlington site in 1939. (Photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections)
Retired after 42 years with the Burlington Police Department, Peg Dumas resides where she was born on St. Louis Street. She remembers when the road to the dump at the end of her block used to look like in this 1939 photo. It was closed and gated in the ‘80s, but as Arlo Guthrie could tell you, a locked-up dump can create its own problems.
“People always used to dump trash over that bank,” Dumas says, “We’ve finally put a stop to it.” It wasn’t easy. Years ago Dumas and neighbors built raised flower beds and hoped litterers would take the hint, but it didn’t help much. The truck turnout that had once served the dump still allowed vehicle access to the steep Winooski River flood plain bank. The dump entrance had been converted as the southern terminus of a paved public recreation path through part of the river valley, but this path had never received the signage and other amenities that make Burlington’s Island Line lakefront recreation path an award-winning international attraction.
Dumas’s neighbor Jon Griesser joined her in 2008 and with his leadership and the work of other advocates, public and private funds totaling about $50,000 were eventually secured. All told Griesser worked with the City Council, Public Works, Parks & Recreation, Code Enforcement, Planning & Zoning, Police, and Fire Departments, the Mayor’s Office, the Community Development office, Local Motion, the Committee on Temporary Shelter and the Food Shelf on homelessness issues, the Walk/Bike Council, and the AARP, which funded new signage.
The money and much volunteer labor has paid for new streetside fencing with a sliding gate for service vehicle access, a pedestrian/bike gate, benches, a kiosk with a large-format wayfinding and historical information display, a drinking fountain, benches, and new landscaping. The improvements were in place by mid-November, and perfect weather graced the opening ceremony (shown in the photo). As Griesser and Dumas said, “It doesn’t look like a dump entrance anymore.”
With benches, a water fountain, signage, gates and more, the entrance to this Burlington bike path has been completely altered for the better. (Photo courtesy of Local Motion).
The Better World Club offers bicycle-only and car-and-bike membership, including insurance and free roadside assistance. Better World Club offers VBPC members a 10% discount on new membership. The VBPC receives a donation for every new sign-up. Use this code to receive 10% off your membership: VTBP2121