This coming Monday, America will celebrates its 246th birthday. However, a brand-new Vermont city is born on July 1, and hundreds of people living there spent Friday evening celebrating the occasion.
Essex Junction was incorporated as a village in 1892. It was part of the Town of Essex for 130 years.
“This is wonderful,” Bridget Meyer said “It’s a culmination of a couple of years of really hard work and 50 years — 50 years — of trying all kinds of merger efforts. We are now our own city.”
Village voters overwhelmingly approved a charter change last November to break away from the Town of Essex and incorporate as a city. Meyer and other volunteers with an advocacy group calling itself ‘Our Village Our Voices’ put in a lot of legwork.
“We estimate we’ve contacted 88% of the voters — the homeowners and renters here in the village,” she said. “We had doorknockers; we had information. We were impartial. We said, ‘you need to know what’s going on. We’re going to vote. Here’s the information’.”
Lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott approved the Essex Junction charter change from a village to a city in April. It took effect on Friday.
“In terms of having a first vote and then final fruition of creating the City of Essex Junction, it’s been so amazingly quick,” Andrew Brown said on his first day as Essex Junction City Council president. “Our community has asked for this for 20 more years than I’ve been alive.”
Essex Junction will begin as a city with the same council-manager form of government that it had as a village. However, Brown says they might alter it the near future.
“We are going to be appointing a committee within the short term to explore whether or not the City of Essex Junction should have a mayor and change our form of government,” he said. “That committee should be created within the next year or so and have that answer within three years.”
Essex Junction now brings Vermont’s total number of incorporated cities to ten. It’s the Green Mountain State’s first new city since Winooski broke away from Colchester in 1922.