Jun 1, 2009

City Council, June 1, 2009

Public Forum, Disc Golf in Leddy Park

Lea Terhune

The City of Burlington, Department of Planning and Zoning, prepared a Neighborhood Activity Center Report* featuring North Avenue and Riverside Avenue Neighborhood Activity Centers (NACs). The report included the results of a design charrette of the Ethan Allen Shopping Center (North End NAC) conducted at the American Planning Association Northeast Regional Conference in Burlington, October 1993.

Everywhere in the report, and in the design charrette, pedestrian access was considered a social and economic asset to the North End Neighborhood Activity Center. Noting the dense population of the area, and the connectivity between the avenue, shopping center, park, bike path, residential areas and lakefront, pedestrian-related issues factored into every aspect of the charrette. Pedestrian access issues were evaluated as either strengths or weaknesses. Anything that expanded access and made the area MORE pedestrian friendly was positive. Anything that inhibited or blocked pedestrian flow was a negative. Seven groups all identified similar pedestrian strengths and weaknesses in the North End NAC:


· Highly accessible to pedestrians

· Good access by road, bike path, & pedestrian circulation

· Neighborhood is pedestrian friendly

· [Shopping center is]Abutting park/bike path

· Park and it’s access [are assets]

· Pedestrian access from rear of shopping center

· Possible pedestrian mall

· Link residential uses to park and shopping center

· Better connection & access to park, bike path, & beach

· Connection with bike path and park


· Poor pedestrian access from abutting land

· No visual or footpath access to park [no gateway]

· Pedestrian unfriendly, especially to the elderly

· Lack of pedestrian facilities

· Unfriendly pedestrian access


· [Poor] pedestrian linkage

Decisions that inhibit the pedestrian-friendly value of the shopping area and surrounding park and adjacent neighborhoods must not be taken lightly. Our Neighborhood Activity Center is moving toward the vision of the 1993 NAC Report and the APA design charette. Redevelopment of the site has enhanced the pedestrian park atmosphere. Mr. Hauke has opened the gateway – between the theater and Hannaford’s -- informally. A 300-unit senior/mixed housing project has won the bid on the state-owned land next to the shopping center, in the NAC. We must keep the park pedestrian-friendly for seniors, already a large demographic in the North End.

The design charrette envisioned a North Avenue [bike]ped gateway to the park, entering by the Bagel Café, traversing a pedestrian friendly shopping park, and moving into pedestrian-friendly Leddy Park through the pine grove between the tennis courts and the soccer fields. Other access points would be from the neighborhoods via the network of walking trails, and from the bikepath. Change moves slowly in Vermont, even in Burlington. No one who hopes for the Southern Connector is ready to give up. 2500 residents who petitioned the city for a dog park waited 5 years for it to be realized.

Change takes time here, but our NAC is moving in the right direction. Bike and pedestrian-friendliness and pedestrian connectivity will be even more valuable to us in the future than it is today as we learn to conserve energy and continue to treasure the front porch neighborhoods that characterize the North End.

Please support the resolution to evaluate other sites for a disc golf course, and preserve the wooded trails in pedestrian-friendly Leddy Park that are an integral part of our pedestrian-friendly Ward 4/7 Neighborhood Activity Center.


*City of Burlington Vermont. Neighborhood Activity Center Report. September 1994. Burlington Department of Planning and Zoning. With design assistance from Julie Campoli, Landscape Architect and Turner Brooks, Architect. All or parts of this report were produced with funding assistance from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community affairs through the Municipal Planning Grant Program #0061/94MPO3