City of Burlington Breaks Ground on Major Redevelopment of Northern Waterfront


August 5, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

City Breaks Ground on Major Redevelopment of Northern Waterfront
Waterfront Access North Represents First Major New Waterfront Public Infrastructure Investment in 20 Years; Lays Foundation for Future Projects

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today was joined by Senator Patrick Leahy, Commissioner Noelle MacKay of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, other State and City officials, waterfront stakeholders, and community members for the Waterfront Access North (WAN) project ground-breaking event.  WAN represents the first major new waterfront public infrastructure investment since the creation of Waterfront Park in the early 1990s.  The project includes the following key improvements:

  • Realigning, widening, and rebuilding the currently decayed and disjointed section of the Burlington bike path immediately north of Waterfront Park to better accommodate path users and other activities on the northern waterfront;
  • Creating a new, world-class skatepark;
  • Remediating environmental issues related to the site’s historic industrial use;
  • Undergrounding overhead power lines; and
  • Implementing stormwater measures to protect Lake Champlain.

In addition, by extending Lake Street and building other road, sidewalk, and utilities infrastructure, WAN enables the future construction of the voter-approved Public Investment Action Plan projects – a new Community Sailing Center facility, New Moran, and the Burlington Harbor Marina.  The Lake Street extension also will enhance public access to the Urban Reserve and any future uses of that City land.

“On Town Meeting Day, Burlingtonians voted overwhelmingly for progress and investment in the long-neglected northern waterfront,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “They voted for a day when our children will bike, skate, and sail here, when residents and visitors will come to the northern waterfront to enjoy the lake and revel in the beauty of this place, and when the Moran building sits abandoned no more.  Today, after many years of planning for and dreaming of that day, we begin in earnest to build it.”

“As Vermonters know, I consider Lake Champlain as the sixth and best ‘great lake,’” stated Senator Leahy.  “The transformation of the Burlington waterfront from post-industrial wasteland to a beloved, modern waterfront has been some of the most satisfying work of my Senate career.  I am thrilled to be here today as the City takes another step forward in this historic effort.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, who was unable to attend the ground-breaking, shared the following thoughts:  “I am very pleased that the City is taking the next step in a thirty-year process to reclaim Burlington’s waterfront for the people of Vermont, a process that I am proud began while I was Mayor of Burlington.  We have come a very long way since then – when this whole area was filled with oil tanks and rail yards and abandoned buildings.  I am also very pleased that federal stimulus funds are paying for a large share of this project.  That federal effort is still paying dividends, upgrading infrastructure and creating jobs right here in Vermont.”

Congressman Peter Welch, who also was unable to attend the event, stated:  “Congratulations to Mayor Weinberger and the citizens of Burlington for another important milestone in the development of the City’s waterfront.  These infrastructure improvements are good news for bike path users, skaters, and sailors and will help the City realize its vision of access for all to the Lake Champlain waterfront.”

“A healthy lake and vital waterfront area are critical to Burlington’s economy and quality of life,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner, Noelle MacKay, who represented Governor Peter Shumlin at the ground-breaking.  “The Downtown Board is pleased to support Burlington’s ongoing work to both expand waterfront recreational opportunities and limit stormwater runoff.”

WAN represents a $9.1 million investment in Burlington’s waterfront.  More than 20 different funding sources large and small, including contributions from Burton Snowboards and individual community members toward the skatepark, make up the total project funding sources. 

“Burton is deeply committed to the City of Burlington and to youth in Vermont,” said Jake Burton, Founder and Chairman of Burton Snowboards.  “We are proud to be able to support the Burlington Skatepark Project and thrilled to get involved with the City’s work to support the standing sideways lifestyle in our community.”

Of the $9.1 million, $3.9 million comes from tax increment financing (TIF) funds, voted for by Burlingtonians in 2012 and 2014 and generated from waterfront TIF district revenues.  Approximately $4 million of the project will be paid for by federal funding sources, supported by the members of Vermont’s federal delegation.  Only $288,000, or 3.16 percent of the project, will be paid for by non-TIF, local property taxes.  For more information regarding the WAN budget, please see the attached summary.

SD Ireland Companies, the WAN project general contractor, has mobilized its crews and equipment this week.  Work on the project begins now and, including a planned winter shutdown of several months typical of site work construction, WAN construction has a projected completion date by the end of calendar year 2015.

Weinberger was joined at the announcement by the following community leaders:

  • Trina Zide, Co-Owner of Maven Skate Shop and skatepark advocate – “Two years ago, we gathered near the old skatepark, and I let the Mayor know that the skateboard community was thrilled to have a new Mayor who cares about us and understands the importance of providing a world-class and safe skatepark as part of his waterfront development plans.  And here we are today, having worked closely with the Mayor and his dedicated team to make this vision a reality, breaking ground on an important Burlington project that includes building a top-notch, new skatepark.”
  • Mark Naud, Executive Director of Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center –“The Community Sailing Center is excited to be part of the first significant public access investment in the Burlington Waterfront since the Boathouse and Waterfront Park and Promenade in the early 90s.  Public use of the Sailing Center’s resources has grown exponentially over the last decade, and this initiative will allow us to adequately accommodate current demand, as well as create capacity for continued growth.  Waterfront Access North will literally pave the way for the Center’s programs in a new Community Waterfront Facility that assures public access, education, and recreation on Lake Champlain for generations to come.”
  • Kelly Devine, Executive Director of Burlington Business Association – “Burlington’s waterfront on Lake Champlain is one of our community’s most precious and amazing resources.  The Burlington business community has been looking forward to the launch of this next stage of the City’s waterfront investment.  The Waterfront Access North project addresses two key concerns of our waterfront business community:  improvement to the Burlington bike path and environmental measures to care for our lake.  We eagerly await the day we look north and see a new face for the Burlington waterfront.  A better waterfront makes Burlington an even better place to live, work, and play.”
  • Kurt Wright, Ward 4 City Councilor and Chair of City Council’s Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee (PACC) – “From my perspectives as a New North End resident, as Chair of the Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee, and as a state representative who believes in the positive impact of an effective state TIF policy, I am thrilled that this project is moving forward after all these years and confident that our new northern waterfront will deliver wonderful community amenities and serve as an economic engine for Burlington.  I am particularly excited about the plans to realign and rebuild the bike path through the project area and look forward to our continued plans to rebuild the entire bike path.  Also, these waterfront improvements will lead to job creation, generate important municipal and state revenues, and ensure that taxpayers are protected.”
  • Karen Paul, Ward 6 City Councilor and past PACC Chair – “As we celebrate Waterfront Access North and all it brings for our immediate future, I also am excited for the opportunities this new infrastructure will open up for the next frontier.  As we move north, we will continue to look for creative, socially and generationally inclusive, and forward-thinking ways to celebrate and protect the beauty and integrity of our waterfront, to bring economic development to our City, and to further enhance the four season appeal of Lake Champlain and our waterfront.  As a result of much hard work by many in City government, which included reaching out to private sources, attracting federal dollars, and harnessing every revenue source imaginable, we have created a funding package that makes good sense and brings the City's contribution to three percent of the overall $9 million project.”


Please see the following documents, including:

Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office