Sending word that the Save 242 Main petition has come closer to its goal since the last update over a year ago. The continual advocacy; petition signatures; and the important comments that were gathered via the petition all played a role in the year’s events.
The petition and its comments were shared directly with city councilors, Mayor Weinberger and the staff of CEDO who were attached to the question of Memorial’s redevelopment. The petition voices made it all the way to the highest level of decision makers.
One of the major outcomes as community interest rose in 242 and Memorial Auditorium was a government-run process that involved a city-wide survey through July last year. Over 2,500 surveys were returned, revealing that the residents of Burlington prioritized “Youth Music,” “Youth-led Programs,” and “Musician Space” as the 5th, 6th and 7th choices on a list of 26 possible uses — near the top.
After the survey results were in, a series of public meetings happened from August through October. Our voice was at every meeting; there was no shyness in standing up for 242 Main and what it means as a symbol of commitment to young people and demanding that the history they made there be respected and honored.
The public process ultimately led to a proposed update to the Memorial Auditorium building that would create an addition on the north side; improvements that would bring the whole building up to modern safety code compliance and created multi-use functionality in the main space and lower level Annex. “Youth-Led Flexible Performance Space” was the label given to the 242 Main space (which at one time earlier in this process was labeled as a storage area for the farmers market).
For the refurbishment plans to be funded in part by a municipal bond, residents of Burlington will have to support a ballot item in November of 2020. As part of preparing a solid plan to be voted on, the administration has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking to contract future management — and some help with funding of the renovations — with a tenant from outside of city government. The RFP document asks how the contractor would program ‘Club 242’ if the City doesn’t exercise its right to rent the space for itself. Those RFPs are due in December. At least one prospective contractor has expressed commitment to saving 242 Main.
Mayor Weinberger explained to me that 242 Main was in the RFP because he wanted it there; this tells us that we’ve reached a penultimate level of achievement with the Save 242 Main petition. The next steps are to make sure the November 2020 vote is successful and Memorial Auditorium gets renovated; that the contractor who runs Memorial (or the City itself) follows-through with restoring “youth-led programs” to the 242 Main space; and that 242 Main gets its name back when it is reinstated there.
Along the way, the office door of 242 Main — the one covered with stickers — was protected so it can be restored during the future renovations. It was part of an award-winning exhibit at the Vermont Historical Society Museum for the first half of 2019, and everyone is welcome to visit it on Wednesday nights from 7-8pm at 4 Howard Street, #A-8 — the Big Heavy World studio inside the Howard Space on the corner of Pine and Howard Streets. Stay to be part of the studio audience for a weekly live local music radio program from 8-9pm called Rocket Shop.
We’ve come a long way from the terrifying October 2016 conversations that floated the idea of bulldozing Memorial Auditorium, through the ‘closing’ of 242 Main in December that year, then the community’s voice being raised through this petition and at all the Neighborhood Planning Assemblies, with the All-Wards NPA Town Hall event at City Hall in September of 2017; and ultimately Mayor Weinberger’s commitment to the public process that we’re near the end of now. 242 Main’s future has been tied to the effort to save Memorial, so the crossover has been continuous, and that’s where energy will need to feed toward, leading up to the November vote about funding the building’s restoration. So, the news is good, with special thanks to our civic leaders who heard us and have shown support. The effort to Save 242 Main continues.