On the recommendation of Mayor Bernie Sanders, the Burlington Board of Aldermen voted to create the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) in 1983, to work on various issues such as housing, job creation, waterfront public access, and community involvement. Under Mayor Sanders’ administration, CEDO was run by Peter Clavelle, who became his successor as Mayor in 1989.
CEDO was transformative to Burlington, and went on to contribute to the redevelopment of the city’s dilapidated waterfront and housing initiatives such as the Champlain Housing Trust; and extensive neighborhood “green up” initiatives.
The waterfront development project and an effort in the late 1980s to preserve waterfront land for public use was a fight that Mayor Sanders and CEDO took to the Vermont Supreme Court.
Since its inception, CEDO also worked closely with the Navy Reserve Facility, asking them to move away from the waterfront to another site in Chittenden County. The Navy recognized that they didn’t have use for the waterfront and that it would be a good idea to move from the prime real estate they inhabited to allow citizens to enjoy that land. Bernie’s administration also structured the deal to benefit taxpayers, whereby the former waterfront Navy building would be rented out, thus becoming a revenue generator.
CEDO was also instrumental to the city’s early environmental protection efforts, such as cleaning up Lake Champlain. As Bernie explains in a town meeting video: “We are, and I’m very proud of this, going to stop the pollution of Lake Champlain. It is a $52MM project, it’s essentially going to clean up our antiquated sewer system and rebuild that wastewater plant. It is a major step forward in terms of environmental protection for Chittenden County.”