Keelan: What is going on in Burlington?

By Don Keelan

Thirty-three years ago, when my family and I settled in Vermont, we thought about residing in Burlington. In many ways, Burlington was a mini-Boston, only more beautiful with majestic views of the Adirondack and Green Mountains, endless vistas across Lake Champlain, and home to a half dozen colleges.

Burlington enjoyed the success from nearby Essex Junction, the IBM facility, an international airport, and many other amenities. No wonder Burlington was acclaimed as one of the best small cities in which to live and retire.

In between then and now, Burlington found the time and money to develop a pedestrian-friendly shopping area, miles of biking and walking paths, a first-class waterfront visitor/marina, and just up the hill, a world-class medical research university and hospital.

Don Keelan

Burlington was not the Vermont pictured in Vermont Life or other publications noting the state’s rural beauty. Burlington was an island on to itself. And today, that island is surrounded by stormy waters that threaten the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of its inhabitants and businesses.

The COVID-19 damage to the city’s businesses will be immeasurable for months, if not years. Tourism is all but banned, and legions of college students, who once frequented downtown, have disappeared. Still, the virus continues to take its toll.

The downtown also has to contend with a giant crater, resembling what one might have witnessed in a war-zone, and it appears to be years before any fruitful filling of the giant hole.

Once the envy of many towns and cities, the city’s police department is now in shambles. The race to the bottom in morale, police coverage, and expectations has been devastating: three police chiefs in one year, personnel departures, and lawsuits have only exacerbated the downward spiral.

Early progress in stemming the homelessness and opioid crises has been reversed, with the trend going from bad to worse. The city and nonprofit organizations are acquiring motels and converting shelters.

The loss of Burlington College to the Queen City and the headquarters and estate home of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont only added to the city’s decline as the center of excellence in education and spiritual guidance. Of course, it became more profound this fall when the city’s high school could not open due to the discovery of PCBs.

In addition to Covid-19, the Medical Center is contending with its 5,000 computers being sabotaged from a hacking/ransomware event, costing, at last count, upwards to $82 million.

The City Council members believe that these are not difficult issues and do not need further attention. Instead, it is critical for them that they stay focused on their progressive city charter changes.

One such change is so the city can have authority over the use of oil and gas heat in homes and businesses. Also, any new construction be void of any use of fossil fuels unless the developers are willing to pay an undefined impact fee. What better time to impose such bans than now when there is so much distraction?

The council’s overly-progressive agenda does not stop with fossil fuels. Moreover, the city must have additional oversight of residential rental properties. It is hard to imagine how any landlord would be interested in investing in Burlington.

Back to policing. This agency might no longer be under the control of the city’s police commission, the mayor, or the council but in the hands of an Independent Community Control Board, according to acting chief Jon Murad. The force strength could go down to 59 officers by September when it was once was close to 100. The National Guard should stand ready.

How thoughtless of politicians to propose such far-out changes while their constituents are faced with enormous and unprecedented challenges. It is because no one is watching. Let’s hope that the council’s indifference is contained to their island and does not spread throughout Vermont.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Michelle Maria
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13 thoughts on “Keelan: What is going on in Burlington?

  1. Let me start with saying, I was born in 1951 and raised in Burlington, and what used to be
    known as the ” Queen City ” …….well, those days are gone !!

    As stated above the City use to have it all, views of the lake that was enjoyed by all the locals
    nightly, the city had a great economy a small but excellent downtown driveable, walkable businesses, like Sears, JC Penney, and other stores that people always valued, downtown
    was thriving…… not much anymore, and don’t blame that on a virus it was dying long before
    that……………..

    Then in the eighties, Bernie Sanders came to town, and the decay of the ‘Queen City”
    began, his socialist agenda forced all the major businesses out, pathetic regulations and
    a spending spree on his programs…….. well, you still see it.

    Today’s City structure with all its left-leaning projects that have caused a major tax burden
    on homeowners and the small business struggling for pet projects like the ” Big Dig ” a sand
    box in the downtown arena, how’s that working for ya !!

    What I see is a useless City Government, following the whims of a few……Oh well, you vote
    these fools in…………wake up before it’s too late !!

    • VERY few will unfortunately wake up. Despite VT’s proud but unauthentic reputation of a people who are “independent” thinkers, NOTHING could be further than the truth. Vermonters I speak with are largely uninformed of politician’s agendas and policies, and vote strict party lines over & over again.

      In some districts such as ones in neighboring Colchester, no matter HOW hard a new candidate works for the opportunity to represent the people & no matter how much time they take to explain their platforms & the enormous positive impacts they will enable – the status quo and sophomoric pressures to proclaim they “loyally” vote “democrat” no matter what!

  2. When we moved to Vermont over 30 years ago we loved to “go up” to Burlington on the weekends and shop on Church Street and stay for dinner at one of the excellent restaurants there. My wife no longer finds it enjoyable and the last time I was there it was a sad sight with many vacant storefronts and the giant crater where the downtown mall once was and vagrants asking for a little change for the cause.

    I pity the residents and businesspeople who are trapped in this Progressive hell and are unable to escape.

    God Help Burlington, its Progressive Politicians haven’t a clue how to fix the mess they have created !

  3. “You must leave now, take what you need, take what you think will last. But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast. Look out now the state is coming thru and it’s all over now Baby Blue.”

  4. This is the result of the “police oversight committee” and a town under control of the liberals. How stupid can this ideology be to not see their glaring problems and correct them. We visited Asheville, NC. It felt so much like we were back in Burlington, complete with almost being run over by a gray haired woman driving a Subaru with a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker.

  5. Burlington has gone to progressive hell……….Imagine Burlington below zero – indoors?!? No Cops!

    And Now my birth home of Essex is becoming Burlington.50? big blob multi-apartments are spawning all over the town, “5 Corners” which I crossed alone as a first grader is now overwhelmed by a collosas, and within 5 minutes walk, 20 or 30? of these 3 story 30 apartment blobs, so close together some units get no sunshine. Enforced one car parking. These are NOT row Condo’s, barely any grass, zero “lawn”.

    IBM improved out village but this progressivism is destroying Essex Jct.

  6. As far as the big hole in the middle of the city, how about a giant 9 story BLM Fist obelisk? I think it is the only thing missing, and would allow the Progressive politicians to lead the way as the first in the nation to do so.

    • Comrade Vic,

      Party finds your suggestion most interesting, will take under consideration. I bestow upon you plus 15 social credits.

  7. Who goes to Burlington any more? Sure the lake is beautiful but take a look at downtown. It is another American city in decline and the reason is progressivism. I won’t be going there any more, in fact I think it’s time to get out of Vermont. I see nothing good coming our way.

    • Dano, I haven’t been to Burlington in 10 yrs.. I use to like Burlington. Then the liberals started taking over and making Burlington different..Weinberger is the cause of the destruction of Burlington.. The same goes for the Capital of Vermont, Montpelier. I can not believe the destruction of both cities. I grew up in Montpelier, and can’t believe the changes and it’s not good changes. Montpelier use to be a very friendly city, not anymore. Hell, the State used to be very friendly. I miss the Vermont I grew up in. The liberals have made Vermont the state they left.. Vermont is dying a slow death. Many Vermonters are leaving the state they once loved..

  8. Sadly, Burlington is the perfect candidate for a Harvard Kennedy School case study on how not to run a city. The case could be called: How Hubris Killed the Queen…….City.

    • Democrats couldn’t take her down
      Socialist couldn’t take her down
      Liberals couldn’t take her down

      Then the progressives said hold my beer…. the rest is history…

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