Mayor Miro Weinberger Celebrates 100+ Successful Penny for Parks Projects


Mayor Miro Weinberger Celebrates 100+ Successful Penny for Parks Projects
Joined by Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Officials, Children and Neighbors
for Grand Re-Opening of Starr Farm Playground

Burlington, VT – September 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Miro Weinberger, joined by Burlington’s Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) and Starr Farm neighbors and children, today celebrated the official re-opening of the new Starr Farm playground. The $80,000 project was funded by both Penny for Parks (~60%) and Park Impact Fees (~40%). The large community park in the New North End totals more than 14 acres and is surrounded by playing fields, a dog park, and community gardens. A popular spot for neighborhood residents and children, the Starr Farm playground also has become a destination for families from other parts of the City.

“As Mayor, it doesn’t get any better than re-opening a greatly improved park that is loved by kids of all ages,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Because of the wisdom of the voters and the hard work of the Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department, this kind of revitalization of our parks system has been implemented over 100 times in all corners of our City since the program began in 2008, including 85 projects in the last three years.”

The former Starr Farm playground was constructed with Douglas fir and was built by Parks crews in the early 1990s, but residents were longing for an improved playground. In recent years, multiple community members submitted project request forms specifically for the playground replacement through the City’s Penny for Parks (PFP) program. The former Starr Farm playground was one of the few remaining wood and metal playgrounds in the Burlington parks system, putting it at the top of the list for replacement. The public project requests further emphasized the need for a playground update in this location.

“The new Starr Farm Park is busy all day long, and is exactly the magnet this neighborhood has needed for years,” said Joanna Nagy, Starr Farm neighborhood member. “The open planning process has allowed our neighborhood kids to feel real ownership of the space and its features. It’s truly amazing to see how a new play structure brings together the community of families and children of all ages to talk, picnic, and be active together.”

BPRW has completed 104 PFP projects within the City’s park system since the program’s kick-off in 2010. Recent improvements include the expansion of Dewey Park, the Miller Center floor resurfacing including pickleball striping, restroom renovations at the Oakledge Park upper pavilion, and several playing court improvements throughout the City. With a budget of approximately $350,000, a dozen more PFP projects are slated for completion in fiscal year 2016.

“The Starr Farm playground project has received such overwhelming support from the residents, including a group of neighborhood children who raised money with a lemonade stand and personally delivered their earnings to the Department!” said BPRW Director Jesse Bridges. “This playground is a great example of BPRW’s focus on quality, compelling structures in the landscape, and shows our unwavering commitment to the importance of play for all ages and abilities. We take the concept of play very seriously.”

The BPRW project team prioritized the selection of unique playing structures for the Starr Farm PFP project. Working with Ultiplay, the playground equipment distributor and installer, the project team shared conceptual visions for the new equipment at a community meeting at Flynn Elementary School in April 2015. About 25 neighbors participated in the project charrette, including many children, and helped make final equipment selections, including the City’s first tensile climbing structure. Formerly one smaller play area, BPRW designed the new playground as two separate preschool and school-aged playgrounds, dramatically increasing the footprint. The play areas were intentionally sited so that both sections could be watched simultaneously by parents and caregivers. A seating area with trees and benches also is in development. BPRW excavated the site in preparation for the installation of the equipment by Ultiplay, and Parks crews installed impact absorbing fiber before the new playground was opened for use.

Penny for Parks is an annual funding plan for parks capital improvement projects. Established in 2008, it was approved by voters as a parks improvement fund and is supported by a dedicated tax. PFP is a short- and long-range financial planning and project implementation tool developed to address community needs for the ongoing improvement of parks facilities. Through this process, BPRW is better able to realize park improvements over time and identify phased funding strategies.

At the direction of Mayor Weinberger, a full community outreach and ranking process was established in the spring of 2012 to get the stalled program moving again, resulting in an aggressive plan to move projects forward. Since that time, 85 projects have been completed with an investment of $1.85 million of PFP funds during fiscal years 2012-2015. BPRW staff is currently at work implementing fiscal year 2016 PFP projects.

*Please see the attached Penny for Parks completed projects list for fiscal years 2010-2015.

Jennifer Kaulius

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