The challenges touched on in this
mayor's recent state of the city address were familiar.
Among the issues" Downtown's vitality, affordable
housing, public safety, environmental concerns, public
transportation and parking. But in Burlington, Vt., Mayor
Peter Clavelle is also running a city where vision and
creativity seem to get beyond the flip chart in reasonable
order, especially compared to Ithaca and the environs.
In Burlington, local jobs have been
created by connecting the agriculture sector to food production
through an innovative "eco park." Cutting edge
community centers have been built around various needs
and progressive delivery systems ranging from health to
justice. Finally, there have been nonpolitical charter
changes designed to make city government more accountable
and responsive, "while significantly expanding opportunities
for citizen engagement." says Clavelle.
As is the case in Ithaca and Tompkins
County, transportation-related issues remain on Burlington's
front burner. Clavelle is now pushing a 20-year multi-modal
transportation plan that will provide"viable alternatives
to the single occupancy automobile," and new bike
routes are being implemented, as opposed to endlessly
debated. There also is a sense of needed fun and perspective
surrounding these issues, illustrated best in last month's
"Curb Your Car Day."
This annual effort has been embraced
not only in Burlington, but through the Lake Champlain
region. Its premise is simple and could work in Ithaca>
a day to carpool, walk, bicycle, roller blade, telecommute
or take to the bus instead of driving solo.
Registration forms provide information
to Curb Your Car Day organizers who estimate "pollution
savings." which are broadcast and published the day
after the event. Participants are eligible for any number
of prizes, including a weekend with an electric vehicle
and monthly bus passes. Moreover, communities rally around
an important message and challenge, casting a needed spotlight
on automobile emissions and transportation alternatives.
Burlington isn't nirvana or even near
Varna, but it maintains a steady, enviable prosperity
by getting more people more involved more often. Ithaca
should take some pages -- and ideas -- from that city's
book, including logistics on how to curb some cars for