Thursday March 01, 2018
The South Burlington Recreation and Parks Department invites the community to attend a presentation for the Underwood Master Plan Saturday, March 3, 9:30 to 11 a.m. at South Burlington City Hall, 575 Dorset Street. The city notes this will be the last opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the Underwood plan before a final recommendation to city council is made March 19. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.
The Underwood property is a 60-plus acre parcel located at Spear Street and Nowland Farm Road, featuring views of both the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains. It was purchased by the City of South Burlington with Open Space funds in February 2013. For the last few years, there have been opportunities for the public to share their thoughts on the use of the property, culminating with the March 3 presentation for public input.
Underwood Task Force
In the fall of 2014, the city council created the Underwood Task Force with five at-large community members and one representative from each of the following South Burlington Committees: Recreation and Leisure Arts Committee, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Natural Resources Committee, and the Sustainable Agriculture Committee. A consultant team from the SE Group in Burlington was hired by the city and began meeting with the Underwood Task Force in November of 2014. Their work focused on how to best use this land around the frameworks of agriculture, recreation, and natural resource conservation.
A Plan Begins
Based on the recommendations of the public and the Task Force, SE Group prepared a Preferred Vision Framework plan in March of 2015, which illustrated the key guiding principles for future development of the Underwood Property. The key attributes of this vision framework include the following four aspects. First, a primary and secondary entrance off Nowland Farm Road. The primary entrance services a “barn” complex for events, operations, and support functions and the secondary entrance supports more active recreational features including an “outpost” with bathrooms, traditional and wild play areas, pump track and strider park, and outdoor fields. Second, agriculture is maintained in relatively close proximity to the barn with peripheral areas outlined for “meadow” to preserve longer-range views. Third, restoration areas focus along the southern property boundary to act as a visual buffer and maintain westward views within the property. And, fourth, riparian restoration along Munroe Brook and a storm water feature are located along Spear Street to improve water quality within the watershed.
In January 2017, the SE Group was contracted once again to create a Master Plan for the property, based on the vision framework. The SE Group has been soliciting public input about this parcel and how residents would like to see this park land used and accessed in the future.
The first public meeting was held on the site last August. The session was comprised of engaging stations to represent each of the identified “attributes” from the initial visioning: natural resources, trail connectivity, active recreation, passive recreation, agriculture and storm water elements. A public survey was launched at that event and remained open on the city website for close to two months to allow for community feedback. Once the survey closed, in mid-October, the consultants began consolidating the information acquired and worked with an architect to begin putting the themes into a design, which was then vetted to the city’s stakeholder committees in November and December.
The SE Group will present their conceptual draft masterplan at the March 3 final public input gathering, after which a plan will be finalized to present to city council March 19. The city notes that after approval of a master plan, initial infrastructure will begin.