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Oil bollards to be removed from Burlington harbor

BURLINGTON - The City of Burlington with assistance from Senator Patrick Leahy has secured federal funding for the US Army Corp of Engineers to remove five oil bollards from Burlington Harbor. The removal of the bollards is recognized as another significant step in the revitalization of Burlington's Waterfront.

In the late 1980's, the City of Burlington began the acquisition and cleanup of sixty-three acres of waterfront formerly in use for bulk petroleum storage, scrap yard, and rail siding. Significant progress has been made in converting the waterfront into a community asset: Waterfront Park, the Skate Park, ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and the Community Boathouse are all sites on lands once off-limits to the community. The Moran Plant is in pre-development, and the 40-acre Urban Reserve held in the "Public Trust" for future development.

Eight oil bollards (or "dolphins") located in Burlington Harbor are leftovers from petroleum operations. Until the early 1990's, barges tied up to the bollards and transferred gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and heating oil to shore via underwater piping. Barges have ceased operations in the Lake, and the bollards are now navigational hazards. The City of Burlington has worked closely with Senator Leahy's office in order to secure U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding to remove five of the bollards, pumping equipment, and subsurface piping. The removal is expected to be completed by the summer of 2009. Three bollards, including one that was installed in the early 1920's, will remain as historic artifacts, and are considered top scuba diving destinations.

In preparation for this work, an Underwater Cultural Resources survey was performed by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in 2006. Old shipwrecks, submerged piers, and other artifacts were identified and mapped to ensure that the bollard removals won't disturb these important historic resources.

Senator Leahy has played a key role in Waterfront revitalization for many years including replacing the Coast Guard Station, rebuilding the breakwater with its historic replica lighthouses, acquiring the Pease Grain site and most notably, relocating the Navy Reserve to make room for ECHO, the UVM Rubenstein Lab and the Navy Memorial, located at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, named in recognition of his efforts. "I am pleased to be able to help the City of Burlington with its ongoing work to improve the Waterfront and particularly the oil bollard removal which has come together well to improve navigation in the harbor. As a recreational diver, I also think keeping the historic underwater site available is a very positive aspect of the project," Leahy said.

Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss expressed his appreciation for the project and stressed the need to continue focusing on Waterfront revitalization. "Thanks to Senator Leahy, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, this important work can go forward," said Mayor Kiss. "This project continues our shared efforts over the last two decades to renew and revitalize Burlington's Waterfront."

A brief slide show on the bollards, information on the Moran Project, and a copy of the Cultural Resources Survey are available online at www.cedoburlington.org.

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