The tossing of ceremonial anchors on Tuesday made it official: A new home for the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center on Burlington’s waterfront is underway.
A pair of $1 million gifts to the nonprofit, announced at the groundbreaking, ensures that the facility will open as scheduled this summer, officials said.
Local philanthropist Tony Pomerleau delivered a dinghy-sized replica check. So did family and friends of the late Raymond P. Sullivan, an avid sailor and advocate for greater accessibility to water sports, who died in May 2015.
The sailing center opened 22 years ago. Its makeshift headquarters in and around the old Moran power plant lacked plumbing and, sometimes, even electricity.
Roomier headquarters will allow the center to expand its mission of exposing people of all ages to hands-on relationships to the lake, said Executive Director Mark Naud.
“We know Lake Champlain is an economic engine for this part of the state,” Naud said, “and we also know we too often take if for granted. This is about knowing more about it so you care about it.”
The center’s new home is directly north of the Andy A-Dog Williams Skate Park. It has been named the Pomerleau Community Waterfront Campus and the Raymond P. Sullivan Sailing Education Center.
Construction crews preparing foundation footings for the new structure paused for an hour Tuesday while about 100 well-wishers applauded the news.
Fundraising Chairwoman Karen Marshall delivered an update: Donors have raised all but $750,000 of the project’s $5.75 million cost.
The project is part of an ongoing effort by the city to enhance the northern part of its coastline, Mayor Miro Weinberger told the crowd.
Municipal improvements to stormwater, lights, parking and utilities in the area, combined with upgrades to the bike path, have served to catalyze private investment in projects that benefit the public, he said.
Pomerleau, 99, speaking from a wheelchair, summarized his role in funding this and other causes.
“I earned it and I’m giving it away,” he quipped.