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November 05, 2009

Children's Museum Pulls Out of Moran Plant Project

The Green Mountain Children's Museum announced this morning that it will not be one of three anchor tenants in the Moran Plant redevelopment project on the city's waterfront.

The multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the former coal-fired electric generating plant has been years in the making. In September, a key financial deal was struck with the legislature to allow Burlington to finance its portion of the development without additional taxes.

Citing the economy, GMCM's board chair said the organization is looking for a new home elsewhere. The group's board made the decision Tuesday morning. An announcement was made this morning by the mayor's office.

“The city has done a good job of holding down project costs, however, the economic climate has changed since the project began and there are many variables beyond either party’s control," said Mia Graham Beer, of GMCM. "As a start‐up nonprofit, it is especially vital that we acknowledge those changes. We have therefore decided to seek an alternate location.”

In a prepared statement, Beer said the museum is looking for an alternative location in downtown Burlington.

Mayor Bob Kiss said he was disappointed, but understands that the economy has forced every partner in the project to re-examine their financing plans.

“While we are disappointed that the Children’s Museum has decided it can no longer participate in the redevelopment of Moran, we appreciate all their hard work and the cooperative relationship that we enjoyed with them throughout our mutual efforts on this project. We are on good terms and I wish them success in ultimately making their vision a reality somewhere in Burlington," said Kiss in a statement.

"The Moran project has progressed to a stage which will very soon require formal commitments from the city and the tenants through the execution of final development agreements. It is clear that the economy is causing all of the partners to sharpen their pencils as this project moves forward. This is the responsible thing for each party to do," Kiss added.

In recent months, city officials have secured, or identified, funding sources that will not affect local taxpayers. City economic development officials are scheduled to brief the council on November 16 about the city's various financing options.

Kiss said GMCM's decision to leave the project will not impact these funding solutions, and said the other two partners — the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center and Ice Factor — currently remain as tenants. The city will soon issue a request for proposals for a third tenant to replace GMCM.

Nooooooooo! I don't sail and I don't climb ice, but I do have kids, and I'm personally sick of going to ECHO. This sucks.

Anybody remember Discovery Museum in Essex? That place was awesome. It would be nice if that reopened.

The fallout begins, businesses now know the Mayor and his administration cannot be trusted. How could anyone go into a partnership with the city knowing that the Mayor and CAO just divert the funds as they see fit. Trust has been lost, money has been turned into a monopoly board, and the administration continues the attempt to blame all, except themselves. I look forward to the resignations of the Mayor and CAO. It is needed to get Burlington moving forward again

Until a new site is announced, check out The Green Mountain Children's Museum at the Memorial Annex during First Night.

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