SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – With the potential relocation of Higher Ground to the Burton campus in Burlington’s South End getting closer to a certainty, nearby residents in the Queen City Park neighborhood are wondering when they’ll get an opportunity to weigh in on the move.
“If this comes to pass, then we want to make sure that we have enough dialogue and that we’re thinking through the real problems,” said Lori Hayes.
Queen City Park is located in South Burlington, but traffic from the dead-end neighborhood dumps out to Home Avenue, and residents are sharing the same concerns several Burlington residents voiced before last week’s vote.
“If you have a large volume of cars either coming to the show or exiting the show, then emergency vehicle access, ambulance, fire, police, is a real big concern, let alone people leaving the neighborhood,” said Tony Settel.
It isn’t just Queen City Park residents speaking out, however. South Burlington City Council Vice Chair Meaghan Emery said the council attempted to contact Burlington city officials to express concern and potentially delay the vote, but were unsuccessful.
“It is truly adjacent to this very quiet neighborhood that is a dead-end, has lakefront views, and isn’t used to that kind of activity especially at nighttime,” Emery said. “I was very frustrated.”
Emery is also concerned that the venue’s close proximity to Red Rocks Park could pose a public safety risk. Cliff-jumping off of ledges up to 70 feet high into Lake Champlain has become a popular summer activity, with sometimes fatal results.
“Bringing alcohol and nighttime into the mix of this extreme sports culture, I see that as a really dangerous mix and I think people need to stop and think,” Emery said.
Despite concerns, there’s still anticipation that the venue could be a positive for the community if their concerns are addressed.
“There could be some great stuff, but it has to be talked about and thought about in advance,” Hayes said. “I think that’s the feeling from people who live here is that no one’s really heard from us.”
We attempted to contact Burton and Higher Ground for a comment, but nobody was available for an on-camera interview.