Mayor’s Office

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Opening of Water Works Park

June 27, 2019
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia
                (802) 734-0617


Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Opening of Water Works Park

With the transformation of a former parking lot into Burlington’s newest public park, the City also celebrates the broader revival of the northern waterfront


Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, along with City staff and community partners, today announced the grand opening of Water Works Park. The City’s newest public park, Water Works Park is located at the edge of Lake Champlain, and includes walking paths, large garden beds planted with native trees and shrubs, LED lighting, nine benches, stormwater improvements, a boardwalk, and greater access to Lake Champlain.

“With today’s opening of Water Works Park, the City now has a great new public space in the heart of the reborn northern waterfront,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Surrounded by a host of new, active uses – the Community Sailing Center, the Skatepark, the Burlington Harbor Marina, and soon the Moran FRAME – the park is built to support everything from couples sharing a bench by the lake to crowds enjoying food trucks, music, and the outdoors. The park’s opening continues the expansion of and reinvestment in Burlington’s Parks system that has been a hallmark of recent years.”

Water Works Park contains a number of features designed to increase accessibility, safety, and sustainability in this portion of Lake Champlain, including:

  • Large garden beds planted with over 50 native shrubs and ornamental grasses, along with 15 new trees;
  • A wood boardwalk to create a safer and more accessible area for walking along the formerly eroding and compacted seawall;
  • Scenic walking paths;
  • Nine benches, including the Roth Stone, a large memorial stone bench that was donated to the community by the Haase Family and carved by Jim Sardonis, the artist who also created Reverence (Whales Tails) along I-89, and which has been relocated to Water Works Park;
  • Improved access directly to Lake Champlain through the fishing pier, boardwalk, and western seawall;
  • LED lighting; and
  • More still to come, including bike racks and additional trash cans later this summer, and new public restrooms upon the completion of the Burlington Harbor Marina.

What is now Water Works Park was formerly a small parking area with 23 parking spaces. While better utilizing this water’s edge land in the form of the park, the City also maintained parking access through the creation of 1) Four ADA accessible parking spaces and eight 15-minute drop-off spaces in an adjacent short-term parking area, which uses permeable pavers to help manage stormwater, and 2) The new East Parking Lot on the other side of the Water Treatment Facility, which will be paved with porous asphalt and opened later this summer.

Water Works Park was built as part of the public-private partnership between the City and the Burlington Harbor Marina, which has helped make possible the reinvestment and expanded public amenities in this portion of the waterfront. The Park was designed by Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architects, and built by primary contractors J. Hutchins, Inc. and Landshapes. The City funded Water Works Park through an investment of approximately $296,000 through the Waterfront TIF district.

"Burlington Harbor Marina is excited to participate in the opening of the new Water Works Park, an outstanding example of the collaborative effort to provide better public access to Burlington's waterfront,” said Jack Wallace, developer of the Burlington Harbor Marina. “This beautiful park will serve as a welcoming introduction to all our marina visitors coming to Burlington by water and land. The construction of Water Works Park includes much needed stormwater improvements, as well as upgrades and maintenance to water system infrastructure beneath the park. I look forward to the improvements to the Moran site which combined with the marina, park, and sailing center will complete the transformation of the northern waterfront."

Creation of Water Works Park

The planning for Water Works Park began in January 2014, when the City announced a slate of six projects to strengthen the waterfront. These projects were selected by a public committee through the Public Investment Action Plan (PIAP) process, and funded through the Waterfront TIF district without any impact on property taxes. Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a tool that uses the future tax revenue generated by new growth to fund investments in public infrastructure and facilities without directly impacting individual taxpayers. (See more about TIF on the City website).

Today, five years later, these projects have transformed the northern waterfront. The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center is celebrating its second summer at its landmark new home; Waterfront Park and the entire northern waterfront have received much-needed new landscaping, environmental remediation, and utility relocation; ECHO has opened a new parking amenity and solar canopy, and is installing rain gardens and public art; and the Burlington Harbor Marina opened this summer to create a home for many more boats in the Burlington harbor.

As the City worked on Waterfront Park and Waterfront Access North, as well as the Burlington Harbor Marina, the City also started looking at what to do with the small parking area behind the Drinking Water Treatment Facility and ways to improve the accessibility and health of this part of the water’s edge. The result is Water Works Park.

Naming a New City Park

This portion of the Burlington waterfront has a key role in the history of the City and the delivery of core municipal services, including water and later, electricity. It was here where, in 1867, Burlington Water Works (now Water Resources) built its first pump house to begin the withdrawal and distribution of water from Lake Champlain to Burlingtonians’ taps.

Today, an expanded version of that original 1867 pump house still borders the east side of Water Works Park, and functions as part of the Francis J. O’Brien Water Treatment Facility that is immediately adjacent to the new park, and from which the park gets its name. Just behind the building wall next to the park, the City takes in an average of 4 million gallons of Lake Champlain water every day, filters and treats it, and delivers it to taps around Burlington.

“As the twenty-fifth Water Superintendent of Burlington Water Works and a representative of its long history, I am extremely pleased with the creation of this fantastic new park nestled between our pumping and drinking water treatment facility and Burlington’s drinking water source, Lake Champlain,” said Megan Moir, Division Director of Water Resources. “While much of our infrastructure is underground and thus not as visible as other City services, the naming and dedication of this space as Water Works Park helps give recognition to the important role that Burlington Water Works (Water Resources) has had and still plays in the provision of vital clean water services to the City of Burlington.”

Continued Investment in City Park System

Water Works Park is part of a recent period of renewed investment in the City’s parks system, which has opened new public lands and amenities for public use and enjoyment. Other recent investments include:

  • Rehabilitation of, by the end of this year, nearly seven of the eight miles of the Burlington Bike Path, including with the creation of “pause places” that create new areas for enjoyment of and access to Lake Champlain;
  • Acquisition of 12 acres that the City is turning into a new park, including new access to Lake Champlain through Texaco Beach, at 311 North Avenue;
  • Improved public access to the 163-acre Rock Point and Arms Forest in the heart of Burlington, ensuring that Burlingtonians now have access to the Lake Champlain shoreline in a nearly unbroken path from Perkins Pier all the way to Rock Point; and
  • More than 100 projects through Penny for Parks, a voter-approved dedicated tax that goes into a parks improvement fund, which Mayor Weinberger worked to revive in spring 2012.

“This Park is the latest in an exciting new investment in and expansion of our Parks system, especially along our lake, which includes the Bike Path, Pause Places, new public waterfront access at Texaco Beach, A_Dog Skatepark, 311 North Avenue, and more,” said Cindi Wight, Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Director. “Water Works Park and the fishing pier allow for a quieter place to enjoy our beautiful waterfront and provide new connections to the other amenities in this part of our waterfront and the water’s edge.”

Future of the Northern Waterfront

As the City completes five of the six projects that were part of the PIAP slate to transform the northern waterfront, the remaining project is to bring resolution and restored public access to the Moran Plant. The City is working hard toward that goal. In March, the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the FRAME concept for the Moran Plant, which will peel back much of the exterior of the building to reveal the structure beneath, stabilize and remediate the site, and add needed amenities to the northern waterfront.

This concept is different from past ideas for Moran in a crucial way: It is affordable and achievable. The City has about $5.4 million of voter-approved economic development funds reserved for Moran in the Waterfront TIF district to complete the first phase of the project quickly with no impact on Burlington property tax rates. Now, the City team has begun the land use and construction permitting process. For more information about the FRAME concept for Moran, see:

The long-term goal is to recreate connectivity along the edge of Lake Champlain from ECHO all the way through the Moran Plant and up past the Sailing Center, until the water’s edge reconnects with the Bike Path, allowing the creation of a new, circular route that people can use to experience the waterfront.

Photo of Water Works Park:

Photo: Water Works Park



















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