It's something many Burlington area residents have probably heard before -- a promise to fix the aging Moran power plant that's been dormant for 25 years -- something the public has never been able to collectively agree upon.
"The opportunity for saving the building may have been lost -- this is perhaps its last chance," said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger. That's because funding to fix up the power plant is only available for a short period of time. Weinberger wants to use Tax Increment Financing, public funding that cities can use to subsidize community improvement projects. But a decision must be made by 2014 or Burlington loses the money.
"At least $5 million of TIF funding to invest in the waterfront district in the coming years. We have at least $10 million to invest in the downtown in the coming years," Weinberger said.
"I'm pleased to see the process that's emerged from this. I think it's better than what I was envisioning initially," said former mayoral candidate Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington).
Wright said he is concerned about the short time-frame. People can start submitting proposals February 4th. Ideas will only be accepted through the end of March. "The downside is, its so tight. Do people have time to put together real proposals if they don't already have one in the works?" he said.
The Mayor said he'll appoint a public investment team made up of individuals with finance and development backgrounds. Those individuals will created packaged proposals that will appear on the March 2014 ballot. These ballot items could contain dozens of ideas in one proposal, including plans for what to do with the Moran plant, how to redevelop the waterfront -- among other ideas is a plan to turn parking spaces into miniature parks along the lake.
"The tricky part of that for a voter is what if they like 3-4 things a lot but hate one or two things," Wright said.
The public investment team will be instructed to choose ideas that advance existing plans, increase city revenue and expand waterfront access for public use. "If we act collaboratively and purposefully the city will execute this action plan without impacting municipal property tax rates while creating a more livable city," Weinberger said.
Weinberger said he's reluctant to put any of his own priorities out there right now and that it's public land and the people need to speak up and decide what to do with it.