Mayor Miro Scraps Plans for Moran Plant Development, Offers 'New Direction'
Updated at 4 p.m. with additional reporting and photos.
Declaring that he would "not risk Moran becoming another Burlington Telecom," Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger this afternoon announced he is scrapping the Kiss administration's stalled plan for a Scottish company to build an ice-climbing facility in the former power plant on the Burlington waterfront.
Weinberger declared in an "Open Letter to the People of Burlington" that the city must not serve as the developer of a "complicated, speculative, commercial real estate venture." Making note of the BT-related downgrades in Burlington's credit rating, the mayor added that "now is not the time for further speculative financial adventures by the city."
Instead, Weinberger unveiled a "five-point action plan for near-term progress" on the portion of the waterfront near the Moran plant. In addition to initiating a new competitive process to determine the future of the hulking and scarred 59-year-old structure, Weinberger said the city will seek a permanent home for the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, which was originally part of the Moran plant redevelopment plan under former mayor Bob Kiss. Sailing Center president Marc Sherman was on hand at the mayor's waterfront press conference to voice approval for Weinberger's new approach.
The "action plan" also includes an envisioned $3 million investment to upgrade the portion of the "beloved" waterfront bike path between Perkins Pier and a point a few hundred yards north of the Moran plant. Weinberger added that he wants to create "a world-class skate park" as part of a set of enhancements to a six-acre parcel of land surrounding the Moran plant.
Weinberger explained that he wants to use a total of about $5 million worth of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds for the waterfront to help pay for the skate park and the bike path upgrade. Burlington voters will have the ultimate say on the outcome of this new process, most likely through a binding vote on TIF investment in the Moran redevelopment.