Transportation in Hinesburg: Creating a More Walkable Village
By Richard Watts and Cullen Paradis, Community News Service
Andrea Morgante used to know every single person who walked past her house. “But now, from about 5:30 in the morning there are different groups of people walking,” she said. “Later, it’s kids going to school and the CVU runners. And in the evening, it’s parents pushing their strollers, couples walking their dogs.”
For 41 years Morgante, 67, has been working to promote a more “walkable” Hinesburg. For 27 of those years, she did so as a member of the selectboard. “Walking is a way to experience all your senses,” she said. “And it’s a great way to meet different people, [to] give a friendly hello.”
Jon Slason, 37, moved to town about four years ago. “Our decision to live ‘downtown’ — within walking or biking [distance] to the dentist, doctors, grocery store, school, library and sport fields and hiking trails — allows our four-member family to survive on one car,” Slason said. “The luxury of being able to access all these activities within a short 15-minute walk or less is no less than amazing.”
Cars, of course, are the dominant way people get around town with more than 10,000 passing through Hinesburg each day, some starting in town, but most passing through.
What would it take to make Hinesburg a place where more people could drive less and walk more? Town planners, transportation professionals and citizens have many ideas. Here are some of them.
Morgante points out that people like to walk in places they feel safe, and sidewalks can make a big difference. In the 1980s, sidewalks on both sides of the street between Lantman’s Market and Hinesburg Community School had completely deteriorated. The town fixed those and then built a sidewalk to Kelly’s Field.
But safety is not enough, walks also have to be interesting. In the early 1990s, Morgante wrote a transportation grant that brought the short recreation path from the post office to Mechanicsville Road — re-purposing a bridge from Turkey Lane and adding trees and benches along Patrick Brook.
A few years ago, the town added the sidewalk along Mechanicsville Road.
And currently underway is a sidewalk between Commerce Street and Riggs Road into NRG Systems. A sidewalk between Papa Nick’s Restaurant and Pizza and new housing units just south of the village along Route 116 is coming next.
The biggest and most important upcoming project would put a sidewalk on the north end of town, along CVU Road all the way to the intersection of North Road and Texas Hill, passing by the Triple L Mobile Home Park. An initial study put the cost over $2 million.
Another sign of the town’s support of walkers: the Hinesburg Highway Department plows all the sidewalks in the winter.
Despite Hinesburg’s efforts to increase safe walking, travel in the town is still dominated by cars.
More than 10,000 cars pass by Lantman’s every day.
As a result, infrastructure investments often favor car traffic over pedestrians, according to Rolf Kielman, 73, a member of the town’s planning commission and a 35-year town resident. “As a town, we’ve got to stop incentivizing the use of automobiles and switch our attention to incentivizing walking, biking and public transportation. That will require more dense and diverse growth that is configured near the center of our village, with services available to those of all ages,” Kielman said.
Density and New Development
People drive due to the distances between home, work, shopping. More housing near town services can allow people to drive less and walk more, Kielman said. The town’s planning commission has been working toward those goals. Several upcoming projects may do just that.
Probably up first, according to town planners, is a new NRG Systems manufacturing plant proposed for the corner of Riggs Road and Route 116. The development review board will devote its entire Sept. 3 meeting to reviewing plans for the plant, which could employ as many as 165 workers.
When it comes to housing, the DRB has given preliminary sketch plan approval to the Hinesburg Center’s second phase, the cluster of houses and businesses off Farmall Drive. Plans call for 82 new housing units in a mix of single-family and multi-family homes and a 39-unit apartment building with offices and businesses. The project still has two more DRB approvals and needs additional water and sewer allocations.
The Haystack Crossing project, between Route 116 and the new soccer fields, is the biggest proposed project in Hinesburg’s future. The massive residential, office and light industrial development calls for 200-plus new living units and a mix of businesses and stores. It also has sketch plan approval, but still needs additional DRB approvals and water and sewer allocations.
To connect these two developments, a new road is planned that would run parallel to Route 116, connecting Shelburne Falls Road with Charlotte Road. The aim would be to reduce traffic on Route 116 and provide a pedestrian path to the library and other businesses at CVU Corners.
There are several other projects in the works that will bring additional housing to Hinesburg’s village, including plans to grow the Meadow Mist project on the south end of the village toward a total of 23 units and plans for 18 more housing units on Mechanicsville Road.
Other Forms of Non-Car Transportation
A growing number of cyclists in and around Hinesburg commute to work. “Riding to work gives me great joy and keeps in in decent shape,” said Kim Hazelrigg, 61, who rides west of town to her work in Williston most days.
There is a commuter bus that picks up riders behind Hinesburg Town Hall twice in the morning on its way to Burlington. “I like being able to read, doze, chat with others or play games on my phone while on the bus,” said Hinesburg rider Cathy Ryan, who walks to the bus from her home in Lyman Meadows. “It makes time stuck in traffic feel like less of a waste of time.” The bus is $2 each way, but a number of area employers offer free or reduced fares.
Looking to The Future: Taking Over Route 116
Town Meeting Day attendees this spring engaged in a long discussion about modifying the crosswalk near Lantman’s store exit. Hinesburg has little say on it because state transportation engineers control what happens on Route 116, selectboard Chair Phil Pouech explained, pointing out that the transportation agency has pushed back on requests for crosswalks, street trees, speed limit changes and other traffic calming or walker enhancements. “The state transportation department’s priority is to move vehicle traffic quickly, which conflicts with Hinesburg’s priority of a safe and walkable village,” Pouech said. Instead, Pouech would like to revisit the idea of Hinesburg taking over Route 116 through the village. “I expect there will [be] some additional cost to the town, but the improved quality of life and safety may be well worth it,” Pouech said.
The Community News Service is a project of the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.
The Hinesburg Business and Professionals Association
Serving the Community for More Than 22 Years
By kate Fain
The Hinesburg Business and Professionals Association is a coalition of local business owners and active community members whose mission is to “promote local businesses, support local charitable organizations, encourage community service and foster communication and cooperation among members.” The HBPA has around 60 members, with about 15 active members who gather at 4:30 the third Tuesday of every month at local Hinesburg restaurant Papa Nick’s. Members work to organize and promote fundraising events which help to support the Hinesburg Community Resource Center and Hinesburg Food Shelf, scholarship funds for Champlain Valley Union High School, as well as local businesses, families and individuals in need of support.
The HBPA has around 60 members and holds meetings at Papa Nick’s.
The most active members, pictured here enjoying each other’s company at Papa Nick’s and discussing their fundraising efforts, include Walter Hausermann, who has been president of the HBPA for more than eight years, as well as Laura Gurdak from Hinesburg Hair Studio, who is currently taking over the position as president. Other active members include Mike Dee of Dee Physical Therapy; David Palmer of Palmer Insurance; Stuart Deliduka with Element Nail Salon; Kristen Wahner, Jean Isham and Kevin Lewis all with the Hinesburg Record, Will Eggleston from the National Bank of Middlebury; Roberta Soll and Karla Munson with the Hinesburg Community Resource Center; Kris Merchant from Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom; Tricia Chaput of Aubuchon Hardware Store; Peter Crapo with Community Bank N.A.; Darrel Depot of PuroClean and Natalie Tucker Miller of Hausermann-Luce Insurance Agency, LLC.
Fundraising events integral to the HBPA’s continued service to the Hinesburg community includes the springtime Community Yard Sale event, which is taking place this year from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 11. The yard sale is going on its 22nd year in operation within Hinesburg, with a great amount of support seen from both Hinesburg citizens and locals from surrounding towns, with some participants traveling from as far as New York to enjoy the townwide event.
The HBPA Community Yard Sale begins at the fire station on May 11.
The sale begins at the Hinesburg Fire Department, where raffle tickets can be purchased. There, several entrepreneurs and businesses who purchased a table from the HBPA will be able to sell their items. Proceeds from the raffle and the table fees will be given to local families in need, scholarship funds for CVU, funds for the golf tournament organized by the HBPA, as well as the Hinesburg Community Resource Center and Food Shelf. The yard sale attracts community members from far and wide as it also provides a map, which is distributed at the fire department, in which any household is able to list their home as a stop on the map within the yard sale event. Homeowners can list their houses free of charge up to a week before the day of the sale. If you would like to purchase a table or be listed on the map, please contact Walter Hausermann at 802-878-7144 or .
The Golf Open (a.k.a. “Fundraiser Fore Fireworks”) is another major fundraising effort for the HBPA. The Open helps to raise funds for Hinesburg’s town fireworks, and is enjoying its third year of success at Cedar Knoll Country Club. The Golf Open will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019, and requires a registration fee of $75 per player for a four-person team in order to participate. Around 50 local businesses also sponsor golf tees every year, and both the registration fees and the tee sponsorship revenues greatly assist the town in its ability to put on their Fourth of July fireworks event. At the end of the open, prizes such as best in class will be distributed, among other recognitions. Registration for the open will be sold at the fire department during the May 11 yard sale, as well as listed online on a soon-to-be-available Eventbrite page, the Hinesburg Recreation Department website, and www.hinesburgbusiness.com. Further questions regarding the open and registration can be directed to David Palmer at 802-482-5678 or email@example.com.
The Golf Open revenues greatly assist the town in funding the Fourth of July fireworks event.
The Hinesburg Business and Professionals Association also organizes community events such as barbecues and other fundraisers which help to promote local businesses and charitable organizations, as well as foster a deep sense of community within Hinesburg residents. Living within the shadow of Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, can have its challenges, as Stuart Deliduka and Laura Gurdak tell me. As Stuart puts it, due to the small nature of the Hinesburg population, many locals feel as if “a lot of the services and support is structured around Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester … but not Hinesburg.” This lack of support means that many residents, such as Laura, feel as if Hinesburg is on its own.
Despite the lack of resources, Hinesburg’s independence from surrounding towns allows Hinesburg to enjoy a rich sense of community engagement and support, embodied by the HBPA and the organizations it assists. If you want to help Hinesburg continue to thrive, please consider attending a meeting, becoming a member or supporting any of the HBPA’s fun and charitable fundraising events. Please contact HBPA.Laura@gmail.com to become a member or learn more about the fundraising events and how you can assist or participate.
How “Bee the Change” Could Be the Change We Need
by Kate Fain, Staff Reporter
Of Vermont’s 17 bumblebee species, four have gone extinct, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Vermont and Vermont Center for Ecostudies researchers. This is an unprecedented loss, and it threatens the pollination of most crops in Vermont, such as blueberries, tomatoes and apples, even with nonnative honeybee populations.
The Vermont-based organization Bee the Change is working to combat some of the human causes for this rapid decline in insects by offsetting our footprint. Most of us work to offset the impact humanity has on the environment by turning off the lights and conserving water, but as Mike Kiernan, one of the founders of Bee the Change, tells me, “that’s an important part of the picture of the human footprint, but it’s not the entirety. The entirety realizes the space that we are occupying as a species.” According to recent North American bee studies, one of the principal reasons so many insect species are at risk for extinction is because the habitat they once enjoyed is being occupied by humans.
Pollinator insect species bring pollen from plant to plant, which allows for the plant’s fertilization. They are essential to the production of our food, and to the continued survival of many different bird, fish and mammal species. Bee the Change has realized the great consequences that will occur from the loss of our insects, and so they are “asking people to take a look at their footprint, and offset it. Take your 3,500 square feet, and create 3,500 square feet of pollinator habitat at a nearby field at a municipal building, somewhere at a school that’s not really being used.”
“Take up the turf grass, put down the seed mix.” — Mike Kiernan”
Right here in Hinesburg, one can see Bee the Change’s work in action at a solar field installed on Magee Hill by energy management company ENGIE North America Inc, alongside Encore Renewable Energy. ENGIE contracted Bee the Change to plant the field with vegetation that supports both native and nonnative pollinators. The field, called Magee Hill, also has a honeybee hive. Honeybees, while a boost to pollination in the area, are not a resource that Bee the Change believes the U.S. should rely on as much as we do. During California’s almond season, 1.8 million of our nation’s 2.5 million total honey bees are trucked to California. The concentration of their population puts them at great risk for contracting diseases, and those diseases are then distributed across the country, even to native populations, when the almond season ends. According to Mike, “the honey bee is not where we are looking to as a solution. We have a diversity of pollinators, so that’s where we should be betting.”
See Bee the Change’s work in action at a solar field on Magee Hill.
ENGIE agrees with Bee the Change in that our nation must prioritize fostering native pollination and restoring natural habitats in every space possible. Gavin Meinschein, lead civil engineer at ENGIE, tells me that “pretty much 100 percent of the sites we’ve developed over the last four years are pollinator friendly, or are restoring the natural area. It’s more about what makes sense for the region.” ENGIE’s end goal is to have a positive environmental impact, and they are working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Minnesota to figure out how they can quantify what the economic or environmental impacts are of their restorative project.
Gavin believes that this “is a very unique chance to use private money to do a public good. The estimates are something like 3 million acres of solar will be built between now and 2030, so the chance to restore 3 million acres of pollinator habitat … we don’t really know how big of a benefit that will be, but it has huge, huge potential.” Bee the Change certainly agrees — while we do not yet know exactly what, or how great, the impact of restoring pollinator habitat will be, it is a movement many of us are getting behind. Mike reminds us all that “a little bit of modesty, a little bit of circumspect, certainly on your own affect,” is important. Bee the Change measures the amount of unique pollinators encountered and plant species they help to grow on their fields “not just to validate, but to make sure that we’re not mucking it up utterly. We’re too soon in to know.”
Bee the Change will work with anybody and help them in any way.
While the long-term impacts are unknown, Bee the Change has surveyed the immediate effect they’ve had in a year since planting their first field. Before installation, there were 17 unique pollinator encounters. One year later, on the same date and conditions, they found 174 different pollinators. This increases plant productivity in the area, which helps support other species. In our own lives, Bee the Change urges us all to be more aware of the spaces we occupy, and what cannot be there anymore because we are. Bee the Change “will be happy to work with anybody and help them in any way. You can do the work or not do the work, we can consult for free. Anybody that wants to talk with us, we’ll travel and talk about it.” Whether it be in your own life, or helping nearby empty spaces make the change, there are many ways we can help support our native insect pollinators before it is too late.
Community Supported Agriculture in Hinesburg
By Kate Fain
CSA is a farming method in which shares of the produce a farmer expects to grow in a given season can be bought. According to the original model, customers then receive a fixed share of the produce throughout the season.
Full Moon Farm, owned and operated by David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt, adjusted their CSA model when the demand for new shares stagnated. The original intention of their CSA was “to create the direct consumer to farmer connection.” Today, their CSA model has changed, but the intent behind it has not. Not everyone enjoyed “the ‘inconvenience’ of having to be at a specific time and place to get the food that was prescribed for you,” so their CSA adapted a “choose your own produce” policy with more flexible pickup hours, while the direct relation to their customers was preserved.
David’s “biggest concern is that whatever a customer’s goals are, they’re actually getting them.” Deceiving packaging can fool customers into investing in the wrong products. The message David and Rachel really advocate for is that those who have some flexibility with their money must begin to prioritize their food — where it came from, who grew it and how. “In our consumer society, we have prioritized a lot of things as being where we put our money. We’re lucky in this area, but there’s more folks yet to be reached.”
The CSA…is of the upmost importance to the continued survival of small farms.
Despite Chittenden County’s support of local food, farming is growing increasingly difficult. According to Rachel, “it’s global climate change.” Prolonged periods with or without rain, or rapid fluctuations in temperature brought about by huge winds, can greatly impact a crop. Further, those winds carry new pests and difficult to remove weed seeds. “We usually have four rooms filled with food at the end of October. This year, one and a half. It’s mayhem.”
“The vast majority of people would not be satisfied with the financial return.”
Trillium Hill Farm is owned and operated by James and Sara Donegan. Trillium Hill has also been experiencing declining interest in their CSA, and selling at farmer’s markets offers more potential for inconsistent sales. James tells me that although “the vast majority of people would not be satisfied with the financial return, I’ve decided to keep limping along with it.” James and Sara are always adapting to the changing demands of their customers. “Right now, it seems like there’s less interest in CSAs and more in the grocery stores.” The so-called “world of convenience” has impacted a variety of businesses, but arguably, small farmers are the hardest hit of all.
Incoming grocery stores may further threaten the ability of farmers like James and Sara to continue to operate their farm. Since Trillium Hill is a smaller producer, they aren’t sure larger chains would bother buying from them. Trillium Hill currently sells to a variety of local grocery stores, but when the CSA option is forgone, some of that direct customer relation is lost. “As I do more sales at grocery stores, there will be more customers who are looking at the options and don’t necessarily know Trillium Hill Farm or me.” Because of that disconnect, James is not able to share that his farm practices organic farming methods, but is not certified organic.
Despite the waning interest in Trillium Hill’s CSA, “it seems like the grocery stores are more and more interested, and people are increasingly looking for more local foods in their grocery stores.” Continuing to receive the community’s support, whether it be within the CSA, at your local grocery store, or eating out at a restaurant, is of the upmost importance to the continued survival of small farms.
Family Cow Farmstand, owned and operated by Aubrey Shatz and Scott Hoffman, has been selling raw milk since 2008. Raw milk is a great and delicious alternative to conventional milk, as it contains a variety of health benefits. For Family Cow, making the customer aware that raw milk is available and educating them on the benefits can be difficult, especially as the milk must be sold on their farm or paid for in advance. Aubrey and Scott are also up against the customer demands of convenience and affordability. “Our constant game is how do we convince someone in Burlington to regularly drive to Hinesburg and buy milk in a glass jar, or get it delivered … it’s expensive, too — so it’s challenging.”
As Aubrey tells it, and many other farmers will agree, “farming is one thing, but it’s running a business.” The business aspect poses constant challenges for farmers who must also care for their farms every single day. Today, the responsibility to educate and spread awareness of the many benefits of eating locally and organically, especially through CSA, falls on the shoulders of the farmers already working in the field. In the coming years, we should work to ensure that responsibility rests with us all.
The Sound of Hinesburg
BY KATE FAIN – JANUARY 31, 2019
Hinesburg residents and surrounding community members have been sharing their love of performing and appreciating live music for generations. This month, The Hinesburg Record took a look at some of the local legends who enjoy sharing their musical talents and who are encouraging others to do the same.
As a long-time musician based in Hinesburg, Rufus Patrick founded the Hinesburg Artist Series in 1997. Rufus is the artistic director of the HAS, which includes the South County Chorus, the Hinesburg Community Band and the a cappella group In Accord. Over the years, the HAS has allowed him to “meet people from other states, other schools … the network just grows. It really is a huge community. It keeps [me] young,” and it continues to grow and change every year.Rufus’s years of directing has allowed him to pass much of what he knows down to the those looking to learn. “The old line is, you always want your students to be better than you are,” and according to Rufus, “it works that way.” With the help of the HAS, people who hadn’t played or sang in 10 to 20 years are “not only playing again, but they’re realizing that they used to be good.” Rufus has watched young students go on to do great things, and others who haven’t played in years come back to life. He is always encouraging others to do the same and get involved in Hinesburg’s rich musical community. If you’d like to join in on the fun, visit hinesburgartistseries.org to find out when the next rehearsal is. The chorus and band are always welcoming newcomers with no auditions, fees or dues required.
“It’s just singing for the sake of singing … it’s a healing thing.”
If you are searching for a different way to get involved in Hinesburg’s musical community, then look no further than Jody Albright. Jody is a jazz and blues vocalist, voice instructor, and more recently, circle-singing leader. Beyond her involvement in a local blues band, the Bluesburgers, Jody also teaches circle-singing. Circle-singing is an improvisational group exercise in which a leader teaches melodies to members of the circle. As group members embody the rhythm and sound of the music, the exercise becomes meditative and spiritual in nature, bonding the group. Jody divulges that the main “goal of [circle-singing] is to help people feel confident enough to lead.”Jody loves circle-singing specifically because it’s not a performance, as performing can be intimidating for those who haven’t grown up singing. “It’s just singing for the sake of singing … it’s a healing thing.” If you are interested in learning more about singing in a classroom setting, Jody is teaching a Fundamentals of Singing class at CCV this spring. If you would like to take part in a circle-singing session, attend an upcoming session on Feb. 10, 3-4:30 p.m. at the Hinesburg Town Hall, or on Feb. 24, 3 p.m. at the Montpelier River Rock School.A fellow Bluesburgers band member, Dan Silverman, is a local trombonist whose jazz group, the Sixth Finger of Jazz, often collaborates their performances with local singers, dancers and poets. Dan and his co-performers love to play, but most musicians find themselves having to secure an unrelated day job to pay the bills. “If I could live my life the way I want to, I would be playing music all the time, but it just doesn’t pay.” Despite the financial strains, Dan and his fellow band members have found sustainable ways to foster their love of music. One of these ways is in the form of the Sixth Finger of Jazz, a coalition of local musicians who gather one Thursday of every month at the Bristol Bakery & Café.
These jazz sessions are not only fun for the players, but for everybody who stops by. Less experienced musicians who are looking to practice are encouraged to come and sit in with the band. Dan promotes this because “The whole point [of music] is to feel happy. It’s scary to play in front of people if you’re not used to it.” If you’re jumping at the chance to play with talented, friendly jazz musicians, or you’re simply excited to listen, stop by the Bristol Bakery & Café and inquire as to when the next performance by the Sixth Finger of Jazz will be. Alternatively, if you’re looking to stay warm inside this winter, but still want to support local musicians, look out for Dan’s newly released album “Early Heroes.”
Young or old, shy or bold, Hinesburg’s welcoming, talented music community has a place for your involvement. Whether you prefer casual appreciation or you’re looking to hone your skills, don’t hesitate to get yourself out there — there’s plenty in store.