It’s official: CMAP is dead. President Ben Sells delivered an update at the last board meeting, and the conclusion can only be that it has been buried in favor of the Burlington streetscape project. 

That’s unfortunate. On the one hand, in CMAP we have a plan that will leverage Riverside’s brand to attract the kinds of businesses to town that would enhance the quality of life for the residents. 

On the other hand, we spend our money on one street hoping that it will bring more restaurants to town which can’t even survive unless they have gambling. How’s that model working out for Atlantic City? The Burlington streetscape project has a new name: the Burlington Boardwalk.

The problems with the Atlantic City model of economic development are well documented. What if the restaurants don’t come? What if gambling doesn’t save them? What then? Are we going to spend all of our money on a couple of blocks of Burlington or on enhancing the character of our village? 

There are those that will say we are implementing CMAP, but that is simply not true. None of the recommendations for the downtown are included in the plan for the Burlington Boardwalk. 

In that two block area, CMAP calls for improved pedestrian-scaled lighting (not included), widening the sidewalk (not done), completing the tree canopy (trees are being removed), a business directory (not even mentioned) and, finally, landscaping along the train tracks and painting some murals (sorry, outside of the boundaries).

So it’s come to this: “Gambling at Grumpy’s” over “Outdoor Recreation Lifestyle.” Don’t be surprised. The old Grumpy’s meets all of the restrictions discussed by the board; wouldn’t be seen, wouldn’t be heard.

I urge the board of trustees to reject the Burlington Boardwalk project and instead use the money to fully implement the CMAP recommendations. One pot of money, two different futures. What’s it going to be?

Tom Lupfer