City Hall Park

Burlington’s City Hall Park Reopens!

Photo by Renee Greenlee

After a little over one year of construction and ten years of planning, Burlington’s City Hall Park is open.  The festive opening weekend on October 16-17, 2020 was full of music, tours, splash dances and movie screenings from the Vermont International Film Festival.

Twenty-two new trees were planted to go with the 26 existing ones. This is only a little less than the 51 trees formerly in the park. They are now planted in healthier soil and have enough space in the ground to support them as they grow.

VJ Comai, Burlington City Arborist, and his crew did all the heavy lifting in terms of planting. He said “We have learned a lot in the nearly 40 years since any significant changes were made to City Hall Park that are incorporated in this new design.” For example, they have learned the importance of reducing  stormwater runoff and how plants can be incorporated into built structures to achieve this. They know how to plant trees so they live a long life and selected species best suited to that site. They used state-of-the art practices so the trees have adequate soil to support them to maturity. Trees were selected to ensure a wide diversity of trees species and age classes. Comai believes in science, and incorporated all he and others have learned into the design and reconstruction of this park. The results are visible there today. He said, “The ecological health of this park has been restored, and most importantly, it has been done in a way so it will be sustainable and thrive for future generations.”

The gardens are comprised of 384 shrubs and 3,435 perennials and ornamental grasses, all sourced locally. Many are native species well-suited for the site, creating pollinator habitat and display color from May through October. The park includes a comprehensive irrigation system to ensure the health of the trees and turf.

Three gardens were established to catch and filter stormwater, and one includes additional below-ground structures to hold stormwater during intense storm events. The park also features a wall to prevent stormwater from discharging onto Main Street and permeable pavers were used so stormwater will infiltrate into the soil. The design will result in a 30% reduction in peak flow during a 1-year storm event and 52% reduction during a 10-year storm event – contributing to a healthier park and cleaner Lake Champlain.

The park includes many features designed to encourage its use by lots of people. There are many spaces for eating and gathering, places for cultural events, a fountain that is a joy to play in or simply watch, public art, and improved lighting and wider pathways to ensure that all can enjoy the park throughout the day and evening. The Parks Department looks forward to seeing the Park enjoyed by the Burlington’s citizens and visitors for generations to come.  Enjoy the photos below! Click on an image to enlarge.