It's big, it's ugly and-- in this rare chance we got to see inside the Moran Plant-- its guts are crumbling.
"For someone who is interested in abandoned structures, this is like a playground, you know?" said Sarah O Donnell, an artist.
But something about Moran spoke to O Donnell. She got approval from the city and for three weeks spent hours each day climbing the rattling stair cases, fending off raccoons and creating a work of art out of sheets of silk. During the day, sun shining on the silk sheets paint light onto the old power equipment, bringing back of bit of beauty; at night, a light on a timer rotates like a beacon, beaming bright colors outward into Burlington.
"It's this big kind of huge brick structure that hasn't really done anything for so long that I think it seems like Burlington is just kind of used to it, and in a way it felt like this is a way to bring it to the forefront again," O Donnell said.
"Anything that brings attention to the possibilities of the waterfront is a good thing," said Nate Wildfire of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office.
But the light display is for people on the outside of the building. Inside, Moran is still unsafe for the public. We had to sign waivers before we could enter. And the future of the building is uncertain. Over the years, several mayors have promised to revamp this abandoned building. So far, every plan has fallen through.
"A lot of the hang up for so many projects in the past has been that there's no money; there's no cash," Wildfire said.
Wildfire says this time that's different. The city plans to invest between $5 million and $7 million to revamp the waterfront district, which could include Moran. The top ideas are being reviewed by an independent panel and will be put before the City Council in January, and then on the ballot in March.
"So, when I say there's opportunities and possibilities-- by next spring we could actually see some of these projects coming to fruition," Wildfire said.
But whichever plans get the green light, outside investment is still needed and the ideas submitted for Moran may not make it to the final round.
"That's why we'll have to make hard choices this fall. The total dollars will not be allocated to just one project," Wildfire said. "So, our team is very committed to evaluating those projects of criteria."
The Moran Plant's future is up in the air. But for now, from the top floor shines a beacon of hope and the possibility of a bright future.
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