What's the best use for the waterfront near downtown Burlington? Do you think it would be best used for restaurants, hotels, shops, a park and a scenic place to stroll or how about a 9-acre rail yard? As you know, we currently have the latter. A Seven Days article by Kathryn Flagg [2/29/12] on the subject makes it clear that this is no new discussion - nor are we any closer to a plan of action. One major problem: what to do with the rail yard? You can't just pick up and move that kind of infrastructure. Vermont Rail System (VRS) operates 350 miles of track and Burlington is the northern terminus. It's a very important hub for freight in the county and north. It would not only be expensive to move, but it would need a suitable place. Some places that have been proposed are Williston, Shelburne and the airport industrial park. The new Burlington mayor, Miro Weinberger, was quoted as saying, "You've got a use there that's not just going to disappear overnight." He went on to say that it would be a huge investment and chances are that's not going to happen at a time like this when finances are tight. There are plenty of other issues, too. Neighboring property owners say the area is a maze of unclear property lines, easements and leases. Defining who owns what will be a challenge. How to develop the waterfront is another issue. Should it just be a park? Should condos and hotels be allowed that would block the lake view? Mayor Weinberger has suggested a top-notch, four-season marina with an expanded boardwalk, shops and boat slips. Other cities such as Chicago, Toronto and even Plattsburgh have moved their rail yards to develop waterfront areas. Moving the railroads out creates very valuable land. What will Burlington do and how will it affect property values? Let us know if you have any questions or comments. If you have any Burlington area real estate questions, be sure to contact us.