September 21, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Courthouse landscape plan comes into focus

The heartbreaking but necessary removal of our Norway maples from the grounds of the Chittenden County Courthouse in Burlington following last October’s windstorm was an unfortunate necessity to ensure pedestrian safety.

Since then, we have reached out to the public for help in developing a landscape restoration design that matches the architectural beauty of our county courthouse.

We are pleased to report that from the potpourri of suggestions we received, a plan has emerged that will make our courthouse even more iconic than before.

We should back up and let you know that as we got deeper into this project, we realized that all of the grounds needed to be addressed, not just the trees. Water was flowing toward the building causing damage to the courthouse as well as the walkways leading to the building on the Church Street and the Main Street sides.

We had it in our budget already to fix these walkways, and came to the conclusion that we should address the cause of the damage as well as the damage itself. So, taking all of these factors into consideration, we decided to hire a landscape architect to look at all of these issues and come up with a plan.

We then contacted every licensed landscape architect in Chittenden County to see who was interested in bidding on the job. We then gave the interested parties the comments we received to consider while they were designing their plan.

The final design features five new sienna glen maples, three on the Main Street side and two on the Church Street side. These trees survive well in an urban setting and grow quickly, becoming bright red in the fall, a beautiful contrast to the white marble of the courthouse.

The trees on the Main Street side will be placed to accentuate the symmetry of the beaux arts-style architecture of the courthouse, with two on either side of the building and one by the “Democracy” sculpture. Grass will replace the cement or brick that is now behind the Democracy sculpture. Topsoil around the courthouse will be re-graded to move water flow away from the foundations and walkways. The walkway material will be white Woodbury granite and will look similar to the way the walkways were originally designed and built from 1903 to 1907. The existing shrubs will be replaced by classic, flowering hydrangea and lily. In addition to the new landscaping, two existing flagpoles will display our new county courthouse flag.

We hope you share in our excitement over this project. As stewards of the county courthouse, we thank you for your input and assure you that all opinions were weighed equally in determining the final design.

If you have any questions about this project, please e-mail me at Connie.Ramsey@Vermont.gov. The courthouse belongs to you, and we want it to reflect the character and quality of the citizens it serves.

Connie Cain Ramsay
Chittenden County assistant judge

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