sailboat racing





Burlington, Vermont
Burlington Plans Fishing Pier

by Ken Signorello

The City of Burlington invited a few fishermen, government officials, landscape architects, engineers and others with an interest in Lake Champlain to brainstorm on the design of a fishing pier for Burlington Harbor. The gathering took place at the Burlington Water Treatment Facility on Wednesday, October 28th.

Bob Whalen, Superintendent of Park Planning & Development; Ron Bourne, consulting engineer; and Peter Bourgois, Landscape Architect are leading the project. There were no preconceived notions and the purpose of this meeting was to come up with some ideas that would satisfy public needs and regulators.

Fishing Pier Site A fishing pier has always been a section of the waterfront master plan. A location at the south-end of the harbor was previously considered, although it was never build. Apparently the fishermen felt that the fishing is better at the north-end of the harbor (something to do with the sewage treatment plant). The bulkhead at the water treatment plant is now the primary target site. This site is being used now by fishermen, and seems to be productive.

Fishermen have been fishing off various docks in Burlington harbor for years. They have used a variety of boat slips in and around Perkins Pier as well as the Community Boathouse docks. Satisfying their needs is the primary purpose of the pier. The combination state and city project will be funded with about $300,000.

The state regulatory agencies explained that a fill-based pier is not a strong option. Although it would require less maintenance, it would be harmful to the environment and could have a negative effect on the fishing. A floating dock was just about excluded because it would need to be out of the water when the fishing is season is still going strong. Marcel Beaudin, president of the adjacent Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, is hoping that the pier could offer some protection to his facility. Of course the city is hoping for a low maintenance kind of structure.

The challenges are many. It has to be high enough to survive buckling, and low enough for fishermen to land fish. It has to survive spring ice flow and still be low maintenance, and it can't interfere with navigation. Another requirement is there needs to be parking nearby. One concept that seemed to have support was to construct several concrete supports approximately 70 feet from shore connected by a walkway to the present bulkhead. A fishing area would be constructed with benches and lights as well as rod holders. If done well, it would definitely be benefit to the waterfront, not only attracting anglers but also armchair anglers.

There will be public hearings on the project, although no time frame has been established. Interested parties should call Bob Whalen (802) 865-7248.




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