Six flights up a concrete staircase that serves the parking garage at Burlington International Airport, a heavy, unmarked door opens onto a $500,000 taxpayer-financed rooftop garden.
Back in 2011, when the so-called “green roof” was installed, thousands of succulents stretched out along slate paths in a patchwork of greens, reds and yellows — a project meant to help reduce rainwater runoff, moderate temperature and provide a “perfect place to relax,” according to the airport’s website.
But a visit last week revealed that large bare spots had replaced the sedums — a type of succulent — that once sprouted throughout the approximately 13,000-square-foot public garden. Dandelions and crabgrass pushed their way between the heartier varietals that remained. Weeds grew from beige flowerpots that lined the garden’s fences. Leaning against one of them, a volunteer aspen sapling had taken root.
“It’s in need of some TLC. Lots of it. Boatloads,” said Michael Lawrence, a landscape architect who helped design the project and has kept tabs on it since. Lawrence said he is one of several experts who have notified the airport of the roof’s deterioration — to no avail.
“The city never did anything, nor did they weed and water,” claimed Rebecca Lindenmeyr, a landscaper for Linden L.A.N.D. Group, which planted the garden six years ago. From the looks of it, she said, “they basically haven’t touched it since we put it in,” she said. Not-So-Green Roof: BTV Airport’s Garage-Top Garden Has Deteriorated | Environment | Seven Days | Vermont’s Independent Voice