Mayor Bernie Sanders’ 1981 Mayoral campaign slogan “Burlington Is Not For Sale” was in direct opposition to real estate developer Antonio Pomerleau’s plan to turn the waterfront into expensive and exclusive condominiums. Bernie’s vision was to instead create a public -oriented waterfront that could be enjoyed by locals and bolster tourism. By 1988, the Burlington Community Boathouse was constructed with funding from a $2.9MM bond for waterfront improvements, voted in March 1987. The boathouse provided waterside public access on the waterfront and was followed by construction of Waterfront Park and Promenade in 1991.



We are gathered here today on the shores of Lake Champlain to announce the arrival of the Barge for the Community Boathouse. As many of you know, the Community Boathouse is one of the many activities funded by the $2.9 million Waterfront Bond for improvements to publicly-owned lands on the Waterfront.

The Community Boathouse will be located at the foot of College Street.

Constructed in 1981, the Barge was purchased in Dickinson, Texas and brought to the City of Burlington by a Push Boat. The Push Boat was purchased in Florida by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company; the City and LCT shared the costs of transporting the Barge and the Push Boat. The Barge has a length of 120′ and a width of 30′.

Before purchasing the Barge for $41,000, the City hired Marine Surveyors to thoroughly inspect the Barge’s condition and to establish a fair market value. The Report stated that “the vessel appears to be in new condition,” and we agree. The Barge would cost $116,100 to build new, and this one – used – is valued at $58,100. And it has very little rust. So, like the notion of Vermonters going south and bringing back that inexpensive and rust-free automobile, we’ve gone south and found ourselves a “cherry” of a barge for our Community Boathouse.

I would like to take this opportunity to further inform you on the status of this Project. The City of Burlington recently filed the appropriate permits with the Army Corp of Engineers. Construction of the site improvements, shoreline protection, dredgers, piers and docks will begin in March 1988. The City has also solicited proposals from qualified Design Builders for the construction of the Boathouse itself. Selection of the Design Build Team will occur before Christmas, with construction commencing in early February.

Work will soon begin in earnest in the development of the program for the Community Boathouse. Generally, the Community Boathouse will function as a year-round center for recreational activities and community events on the Burlington Waterfront. Its functions will be water-based, land-based, and building-based. It will function as a focal point of community activities on the Waterfront, and it will be able to respond and change to community needs and desires.

Water-based activities to include:

  • Boat rentals, primarily sailboats of different sizes (less than 22′). To a lesser extent, rentals of motorboats, canoes, rowing shells, rowboats; and kayaks. ·
  • Boating lessons, including basic, intermediate, and advanced sailing lessons; motorboat safety lessons; boardsailing lessons, scuba diving lessons; kayaking; white water canoeing; waterskiing; and other water­ related activities.
  • Workshops on the history and ecology of Lake Champlain and other water­ related ecological issues.
    Fishing and fishing-related activities, including fishing lessons and fishing equipment rentals.
  • Ice skate rentals, including the rental of broomball equipment and nets. Lessons in First Aid, hypothermia, sailmaking and repair, racing tactics, weather conditions, boat repair, boat buying, and navigation.
  • An Adapted Boating Program, designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities, including rentals and lessons.

Land-based activities may include:

  • Bicycle rentals.
  • Information on the Bicycle Path (large map and small land maps).
  • Cross-country ski rentals and lessons.

Building-based activities may include:

  • Limited snack facilities.
  • Classroom spaces for lessons (see above).
  • Function rooms for community meetings and community cultural events (concerts, poetry readings, plays).
  • Community Bulletin Boards.
  • Warming hut in winter.
  • Place to watch sunsets in summer.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank: Ray Pecor, Gordon Lyle, and the staff of the Ferry Company for their support, assistance, and technical know-how; Bert Moffatt, who will be carrying the ball in the con­struction of the Boathouse; and Peter Clavelle and Michael Monte of CEDO for overall implementation and coordination.