Gary Shepard at 1 Patrick St., his home near the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington.
John Briggs, Free Press Staff Writer: June 25, 2012
The Burlington Airport’s neighborhood, sound buffeted, is going away, piece by piece, like a landscape-shifting Stephen King novel or like Detroit, changing the daily landscape for those who remain. The noise from the airport is too loud for residential life according to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, and the houses are being bought by the airport and torn down.
It is still a pleasant neighborhood with tall trees and deep, well-tended lawns. Many houses have flower gardens. Airport Parkway has become a throughway from South Burlington to Colchester — one woman who lives there says backing from her steep driveway is often an adventure. The side streets, Dumont Avenue, Patrick and Maryland streets, North Henry Court are still a testament to the post-war housing boom that gave cash-pressed families a respectable address and neighborhood to call home.
Now, it is a neighborhood marked by empty lots and dozens of houses marked with quarantine-like yellow signs, South Burlington’s zoning permit to “demolish a single family home.” The signs don’t explain why.
In conversation — and virtually everyone wants to talk about what’s happening — themes emerge: nostalgia for what was, irritation at the airport’s lack of communication with people in the sound zone and a feeling that forces greater than a single homeowner have decided the neighborhood is of less value than an expanding airport. Often, conversations about the change are tinged with sadness that once familiar sounds and a neighborhood pulse are becoming past tense.
“I’d like to keep my neighborhood,” said Beverly Darling, who lives on Maryland Street, “but it’s too late now.”
“Now, it’s going goodbye. It’s going to happen,” said her neighbor across the street, Tricia Phillips, who observed that her family’s dog and another dog two houses down give some protection against burglars entering the empty house next door ..
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