Mayor's Update

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Mayor John Hollar


A surprising number of number of Montpelier residents (and nearby residents) spend their spare time working quietly and with little recognition to make this a great community. It would be impossible to acknowledge all of them on this page, so I’ve highlighted the efforts of twenty who work overtime to make Montpelier a more vibrant, attractive and fun place to live and work.

Zoning doesn’t fall in the “fun” category, but it is essential for ensuring that our community grows in a thoughtful way. Planning Commission Members Jon Anderson, Kim Cheney, John Adams, Barbara Conrey, Tina Ruth, Eileen Simpson and Leslie Welts have been toiling for years to rewrite the city’s antiquated zoning ordinance. This project is nearly completed, and while it has inevitably generated some controversy and will likely be tweaked by the city council, the commission has done impressive work.

Jennifer Gordon, Jon Budreski and Anthony Mennona are pushing the city to do more to become a bike-friendly city. This has been a council goal since 2012, but our progress has been halting. Based on their efforts, the council will likely reorganize the Transportation Advisory Council to make it a more effective tool for advancing alternative transportation projects.

Eve Jacobs Carnahan and John Snell are leaders of the Pedestrian Committee, and they’ve organized a street closing event on October 8th to showcase how Montpelier can better accommodate transportation alternatives to automobiles and parking. Committee member Harris Webster has worked for years to document the quality of the city’s sidewalks.

Speaking of John Snell, he also chairs the Tree Board, so please thank him and the other volunteers on that board for their work to plant and maintain the trees that make our downtown a more pleasant and comfortable place.

The Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, chaired by Kate Stephenson, is charged with helping the city reach its goal of Net Zero Montpelier – to become the first state capital to produce or offset all of its energy needs from renewable energy sources. This is a hugely challenging task and they have received national recognition for their work in highlighting this important goal.

Led by Roy Schiff, the Conservation Commission is working to ensure that the city includes maps that identify existing and future trails and other natural resources when we adopt a new zoning ordinance.

The Development Review Board evaluates development applications based on the standards and procedures that are included in our city zoning code. Phil Zalinger has chaired the DRB for more than two decades, and his steady focus and his attention to detail ensures that the city has a fair and predictable process for considering development proposals.

There are several other volunteer-driven organizations that don’t fall under the city’s purview, but their efforts to promote a vibrant community are so closely tied to those of the city’s that they deserve mentioning.

The work of Montpelier Alive is inextricably linked to our efforts to promote a vibrant and healthy downtown. In addition to her behind-the-scenes efforts to run the organization, Board Chair Sarah Jarvis can be seen regularly downtown leading a crew that includes Linn Perkins Syz planting flowers and helping to run events such as the amazingly successful July 3rd festivities.

Few towns our size can boast of having a successful collegiate baseball team. For thirteen years the Mountaineers have provided great family entertainment on hot summer nights. There are too many volunteers working year-round to make the program a success to single out any of them.

If you’ve walked down Langdon Street recently, or sat in the pocket park on Main Street, you’ve experienced the creativity and hard work of Ward Joyce. Ward, along with Steve Frey and many other volunteers, are working to transform our public spaces through the use of art and design to make them more accessible, interesting and attractive.

Carolyn Shapiro recently organized a group of artists who have just completed a beautiful mural on an otherwise unsightly interstate bridge footing.

These are just a few of the volunteers who are working every day to make Montpelier a more successful and vibrant community. If you know of someone I’ve overlooked, please email me at jhollar@montpelier-vt.org and we’ll make sure they get the recognition they deserve.