This open letter to the Burlington City Council was written for Rights & Democracy with Shay Totten. It is guided by the Fair Development tool that is meant to keep Burlington’s growth equitable among multiple stakeholders, and governed by putting people first.  We’re asking that the city council ensure than an open, transparent and public process is used to guide the future of Memorial Auditorium. Memorial’s legacy as a gathering place for our community — from the historic teen center 242 Main to the venue itself — should require a community discussion before the taxpayer-owned building’s fate is determined. Join me in signing:

Dear City Councilors:

The undersigned request that the restoration or redevelopment of Memorial Auditorium be decided by a public, transparent request for proposals (RFP) process that is overseen and evaluated by a committee of Burlington citizens.

When confronted with decisions that will have long-lasting impacts, we look to the council’s leadership to bring the city together to deliberate.

We ask that you turn to a crucial Burlington resource — it’s residents — in evaluating Memorial Auditorium’s future. Burlington is a city of innovative, driven, and civic-minded individuals and organizations who have demonstrated, time and time again a willingness to serve each other and contribute to our community’s well-being. They stand ready to help chart Memorial’s future.

Memorial Auditorium has been home to valued community programs, an historic legacy as a memorial to our nation’s veterans, the primary city-owned infrastructure for the performing arts, and a treasured and nationally significant all-ages music venue.

Its unique architecture and multi-use spaces make Memorial a physical and emotional asset to our community—an asset too valued to have its future be constrained by an individual vision or the lack of an open, public process.

That is why a public RFP process, with a democratic evaluation made by citizens who represent Memorial’s diverse programming is essential to charting its future. In addition:

  • An open RFP process will bring to light investment opportunities and community needs that may otherwise be overlooked.
  • An open RFP process will encourage local organizations to collaborate in ways that strengthen our social capital and makes our city stronger.
  • An open RFP process will help chart the future of the city in a way that builds on the city’s rich history of civic engagement, and public deliberation.

Thank you for doing what you’ve been elected to do: Ensure that an open, democratic process determines the future of the city’s key public assets.

Sincerely the undersigned,

(Please add your signature.)

Photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Vermont Libraries.

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