Moran Plant redevelopment plan moves closer to becoming reality

BURLINGTON The Moran Plants redevelopment proposal received a major boost Tuesday when several key city officials gave the project their full support. As the proposal moves to a vote on Town Meeting Day Tuesday, March 4 the plan will carry endorsements from Mayor Bob Kiss and City Council President Kurt Wright. The plans widespread support was a positive sign for Burlington politics, as councilors from each of the citys major parties Democratic, Progressive, Republican and Independent gave the plan a thumbs up. The proposal will appear on the ballot as an advisory question. The endorsement is good news for those hoping to inhabit the building, which has sat empty on Burlingtons Waterfront since 1986. Ice Factor, a for-profit adventure company, hopes to take over part of the empty space. The rest would be shared by the Community Sailing Center and the Green Mountain Childrens Museum. The other choice, less popular among city council members, is to simply demolish the building. Voting in that direction would save money, but also destroy a building with great potential for adding character to the already vibrant waterfront. Kiss said that both the community and the economy would benefit if the proposal is passed. The Moran redevelopment plan retains and improves a vital City asset, said Kiss. It provides enjoyment and recreation to children and families, adults of all ages, and seniors, and at the same time it significantly enhances the local and state economy. While a yes vote allows this important plan to move forward, it does not end the opportunity for public input and review, since any lease and development agreement would need to be approved by the citys Board of Finance and City Council. If the proposal is passed, the city would begin discussion on the best way to utilize the building and the area on which it sits. In addition to the proposed tenants of the building, the city will also consider a public ice-skating rink, a summer spray park, enhancements to the bike path and the building site, improved parking, a brand new and expanded skateboard park, and a restaurant and cafe. According to Wright, the Moran Plants potential is similar to the way Burlington once transformed the waterfront. This is an opportunity to make something good from the decommissioned Moran Plant, he added. A year-round waterfront attraction, spectacular lake views from four stories up, and a mix of private and public uses. This can be a building the people of Burlington would be proud of. Its also important to remember that a second vote would be required by the people of Burlington if financing for the project would result in an increase in property taxes. To put the plan into effect, the city would require financial investments from both non-profit and for-profit organizations. It is expected that the project would generate approximately $2 million to the local economy from the start, and create nearly 500 temporary and 80 permanent jobs. For more information about the proposed Moran Plant plan, visit www.ci.burlington.vt.us .

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