News & Updates

WVPD in the News & Recent Articles

Williston Observer, January 7th, 2017:  http://www.willistonobserver.com/willistons-membership-in-parks-district-questioned/

Seven Days, August 9, 2017:  https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/a-funding-dispute-challenges-the-winooski-valley-park-district/Content?oid=7243273

Williston Observer, October 19th, 2017:  http://www.willistonobserver.com/park-district-makes-pitch-for-williston-land/

 


 

Updates & Current Happenings

TOWN MEETING DAY

Each year on Town Meeting Day towns vote on their municipal budget including the WVPD member towns, which includes their annual contribution to support the WVPD’s annual budget. Town Meeting Day is March 6, 2018.

This year, the WVPD is a ballot item for the Town of Williston:

What is the Ballot Question?  On this years’ ballot at Williston Town Meeting is a question regarding the town of Williston’ membership in the WVPD.  A “yes” vote on the ballot asks the town to withdraw, a “no” vote supports continued membership.

From the Town of Willistons’ Town Meeting Day warning:

Article 7: Shall the voters authorize withdrawing as a member of the municipal district known as the Winooski Valley Park District?

From the Town of Willistons’ website:

Winooski Valley Park District Withdrawal (Article 7)

Williston voted to become a member of the Winooski Valley Park District (WVPD) in 1987. The WVPD owns and maintains 18 parks and natural areas located in nearby towns. Williston’s annual membership cost is approximately $32,000. The Town’s contribution helps pay for the operational needs of the WVPD, and is determined by a funding formula that considers population and municipal grand list value as equal factors in arriving at a member municipality’s annual allocation. The Town has questioned the value it is receiving as a member of the WVPD, and has requested that the WVPD change its membership cost formula, which currently results in Williston residents paying the highest amount per person in the District. The WVPD has chosen to not change the membership cost formula. The Williston Conservation Commission supports having the Town remain a member of WVPD because it believes WVPD is in a position to provide more service to Williston in the future and is concerned about the future viability of WVPD should Williston withdraw as a member. Voters are being asked whether the Town should withdraw its membership in the WVPD. More information about the WVPD is available on its website.

While there are continuing efforts to find alternative income streams and research on possible changes to the current funding model, the WVPD Board has so far retained the funding system now in place, concluding that it has functioned well since 1987, while balancing relative wealth (grand lists) with population.

Willistons’ Town Manager had been encouraging the WVPD Board to change its’ formula to take into account population only.  This would save Williston and South Burlington approximately $7,000/year, but place the burden on Burlington (over $10,000 more annually) and Winooski (over $3,000 more annually) to make up the difference.  For a variety of reasons the WVPD Board did not act on this idea. The Town Manager subsequently recommended to the Selectboard that a Ballot Question be advanced.

Town leadership has also expressed a concern about the lack of WVPD acreage within Williston which has only eight acres of WVPD parkland (Muddy Brook Wetland Reserve) within its borders.  Based on feedback from the Conservation Commission, local residents, and town staff, WVPD has proposed taking ownership of the 29-acre Jacob parcel (recently donated to the town).  This parcel would be developed into a public park, with new access points, bridges, puncheon, and a trail network.

DRAFT Jacob Parcel Analysis and Development Plan

WVPD Organizational Analysis for Williston Selectboard

Examples of VT and National Funding Formulas


PARKS SUPERINTENDENT UPDATE: January 
Prepared by Tim Larned, Parks Superintendent

This month, a major component of the NRCS contract at Colchester Pond was completed.  A 9-acre section of park, which was formerly pasture, was brush-hogged and largely cleared of large pine.  This work was directed by Dave Adams of VT Fish and Wildlife and Margaret Fowle (VT Audubon).  The WVPD will be working with Dave and Margaret to promote this work and use it as a demonstration site going forward.  The goal of this project is to provide more habitat for the Golden Winged Warbler in the Champlain Valley.

Tim Larned, Parks Superintendent, and Remy Crettol, Programs & Project Coordinator, finished clearing the large clumps of down trees on the east side of the Colchester Pond trail.  Barrett’s Tree was hired to remove a large hanging/down tree at the entrance of Old Mill Park.

Tim worked this month on researching some options on replacing/temporary repair of the Ethan Allen Homestead bridge to the Intervale.  We hope to repair or have a temporary replacement in place this spring, and then seek other sources to help with a bridge in the future.  WVPD has been working with a group of UVM Engineering students on a larger and more permanent structure, although the high cost of a replacement that would allow tractor/grooming equipment from the Intervale to access the Homestead will likely delay this larger bridge from being constructed.

Tim submitted a Department of Environmental Conservation Grant in Aid, for the Colchester Pond Greeter Program.  This would be the 6th consecutive year the WVPD has hosted a Greeter Program to monitor the spread of invasive species, if awarded.  Tim and Nick assisted the Lake Champlain Committee on a second DEC Grant in Aid, that would set up monitoring for Asian Clam in Lake Champlain.  WVPD would be the fiscal agent for the Lake Champlain Committee.

Spring planning has begun.  On May 4th, Arbor Day, the WVPD will be working with Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District (WNRCD), on a Trees For Streams project at Muddy Brook Wetland Reserve which was funded by a grant the WNRCD received.


AMERICORPS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR UPDATE: January
Prepared by Juli Tyson, AmeriCorps Environmental Educator

CP Smith Afterschool group watching the winter sunset at the Ethan Allen Homestead. Photo Credit: Juli Tyson. January 2018

After school programs with CP Smith Elementary, Edmunds Elementary, and JJ Flynn Elementary have been running once a week since January. This is the first time running regular winter after school programs. The demand for these outdoor after school programs is high for programs in the Burlington area! All three schools have been visiting the Ethan Allen Homestead for some unique winter exploration of snow, ice and wildlife. Four after school programs are planned for the spring session with JJ Flynn Elementary, CP Smith Elementary, Jericho Elementary, and Essex Elementary.

Juli Tyson, current WVPD AmeriCorps Member, has also been visiting a 4th grade class at Champlain Elementary covering the Land and Water unit using Vermont’s landscape for examples. Juli has also been visiting a 2nd grade class at JFK Elementary in Winooski, where they have investigated the structure and properties of natural objects (feathers, skulls, nests, pinecones, snake skin etc.), built models of dams with sand, sticks, leaves, and rocks, and compared the flexibility of feathers, snake skin, and a turtle shell. Juli also visited the Sustainability Academy in Burlington, where she taught about urban and backyard birds, showed the students how to use binoculars, and lead the class on a bird walk around downtown Burlington. In the future Juli will also be providing lessons with kindergarten classes at Allen Brook in Williston, and leading a service learning project on invasive plants with 6th graders from Essex Middle School. Juli also visits the Champlain Senior Center once a month discussing various environmental related topics.

On Saturday February 17th,  Juli lead a walk for the Green Mountain Club (GMC) Burlington’s Young Adventurers Club for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Still to come are the three Bird walks with GMC at Derway to watch spring arrive through the birds, along with planning for the February vacation camp and Summer camp.


PROGRAMS DIRECTOR UPDATES: January
Prepared by Lauren Chicote, Program Director

Planning for February Vacation camp is underway and registration is full! Staff have been working on a fun and exciting schedule of activities for the week – fingers crossed we continue to have snow on the ground!

S.O.L.E. Camp campers observing life in the wetlands at the Ethan Allen Homestead. Photo Credit: Lauren Chicote, June 2017.

Registration for S.O.L.E. Camp is full with growing wait lists for all eight weeks.  This is the fastest registration has filled – registration opened February 1st. We are already starting to plan the activities for the summer with new field trips, games, and experiments. Most of our camp staff will be returning to work again this summer.

In addition to planning and coordinating the two camps, planning for Conservation Field Day is underway. WVPD will also play host to the Drinking Water Week culminating celebration Friday May 11th at the Ethan Allen Homestead – event similar to Conservation Field Day but focused on water quality.


Programs & Projects Coordinator Update:
Prepared by Remy Crettol, Programs & Projects Coordinator

Remy has been working on invasive plant management plans with Tim and Vermont State Invasive Coordinator, Elizabeth Spinney, for each of WVPD’s parks. Remy is supervising an intern from Champlain College and a UVM group to map the distribution and diversity of invasive species at Woodside Park and Delta Park. Students will also help complete management plans for both parks and organize volunteer days for invasive removal in the spring.

Red Fox tracks at the Ethan Allen Homestead. Photo Credit: Remy Crettol, March 2016.

Remy has led two UVM classes at the Ethan Allen Homestead on winter trees and wildlife tracking. He has also led the Burlington Master Naturalist 2018 group at Derway Island to observe land use history, tree adaptation to floodplain environments, and wildlife tracking.

Remy has been developing activities and curriculum and preparing the classroom for February Vacation Camp.

Remy has created an annual grant calendar so staff can evaluate upcoming grant opportunities that align with WVPD projects and programs throughout the year.

Lumber has been delivered to build picnic tables for South Burlington. Remy and Tim have begun construction and will continue throughout the month.

Tim and Remy have cleared trails from fallen trees at various WVPD parks, most notably Colchester Pond which had major trail obstructions.