South Burlington leaders have wanted for more than 35 years to move city services closer to where most people live. However, that effort has come to life.
For much of Friday afternoon and evening, people gathered on Market Street for a block party right outside the brand-new South Burlington City Hall. Voters approved the financing for the $22.1 million facility in November 2018.
“There’s nothing but joy,” South Burlington resident Carolyn Basiliere said. “I mean, it’s so wonderful. We’ve been driving up and down this road watching all the construction going on and just thinking what a miracle it is that they pulled this off.”
Municipal staff members moved in last week. Besides the offices in which they work, there’s a 100-seat auditorium for City Council meetings which is also available for rent.
In some of her remarks to the community, City Council chair Helen Riehle said the effort to envision what downtown South Burlington looks like actually began all the way back in 1985.
“Yes, decades in the making,” city manager Jessie Baker said. “The community visioning of what the City Center could be has been a topic of conversation in South Burlington for many, many years. We’ve been under construction for about two years, and we are just thrilled to welcome the neighbors in.”
After being welcomed in, neighbors could toured the new senior center named after Kevin Dorn, who retired at the end of June following eight years as city manager. They could also explore the new South Burlington Public Library, which features extra meeting rooms and other amenities the community asked for.
“The focus groups wanted spaces for middle school students, for high school students,” library director Jennifer Murray said. “We have those. They wanted outdoor spaces, and we have a nice terrace.”
Basiliere plans to spend a good amount of time there.
“I’m just marveling at the whole thing,” she said. “I’m going to be so excited to have a library that we can come to. I really never utilized that other library that was at the high school or the middle school, but I’ll definitely be using this one.”
The former City Hall on Dorset Street will definitely be used, too; the South Burlington School District will move into it. School officials also have an option to buy it from the city in 2024 for an unspecified amount.