Burlington mayor says 'no go' on Moran plant plan - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington mayor says 'no go' on Moran plant plan

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Mayor Miro Weinberger Mayor Miro Weinberger

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger took office April 2, following his "Fresh Start" campaign.

Monday, three months later, he wiped the slate clean on existing development plans for the Moran power plant.

"I will not risk Moran becoming another Burlington Telecom," said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

The old power plant sits on prime lakefront property, but has gone unused since 1986.

Weinberger says the city will begin looking for new development partners this September, and hopes to have a successful applicant in place by April. The idea is to rehab the building and the city is open to either commercial or nonprofit uses.

Weinberger says momentum for the Kiss administration's plans to partner with an international indoor ice climbing firm had gone cold after questions arose about the project's economic viability. But that doesn't put a freeze on other efforts to improve the area.

"After years of delay, further inaction is also untenable. Therefore, in addition to the promised decision, I'm also announcing today, a five-point action plan for near term progress of the northern waterfront," Weinberger said.

The mayor says he plans to ask the City Council and public to approve two $3 million state development loans. If approved, they'll pave the way for site improvements and a bike path upgrade.

A new 18,000-square-foot skate park is also in the works and the current space is set to become a parking lot.

A parcel has been tentatively set aside to become the new permanent home of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center.

Lands to the north-- intentionally held in reserve for 20 years-- will be open for development, and the mayor says he can see a low-intensity public use such as botanical gardens.

"I think the mayor's announcement today signals a change in focus and direction that has been long overdue," said Karen Paul, I-Burlington City Council.

City councilors, development stakeholders and community group representatives at the press conference all praised Monday's announcement. But success will hinge on finding a good partnership fit for Moran, a match that has eluded previous administrations.

Weinberger says he believes the site is more attractive to investors now than in the past because of investments the city has made at the site, permits already in place, and the elimination of the handling of previous environmental concerns.

A call placed to former Mayor Bob Kiss seeking his reaction to the announcement has not been returned.

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