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Burlington Segways, Inc. is owned and operated by Rick Sharp and his wife, Ruth Masters. Rick and Ruth have taken over 30 Segway tours of cities around the world from Paris to Boston, Prague to Lisbon. They have offered off-road Segway tours of their property in Milton since 2009 and Segway tours of downtown Burlington since 2013. They have taught over 8,000 people to ride Segways over that time with no injuries.
Rick was instrumental in the creation of the Burlington Bike Path and Waterfront Park in the early 1980s. In response to a proposal to build two 18 story luxury condominium towers on the waterfront downtown in 1980, Rick joined future Governor Howard Dean and UVM Environmental Studies professor, Tom Hudspeth, to form the Citizens Waterfront Group to advocate for the creation of a bike path on the waterfront instead.
This group popularized the concept of the bike path by capturing 75% support from city voters on an advisory ballot item in 1981. In 1984 the Group got a $750,000 bond approved by 2/3s of City voters to fund construction. The path was completed from Oakledge Park in the south to the mouth of the Winooski River in the north in 1989. It is now the #1 rated Attraction for Burlington on Trip Advisor.
Rick was also one of the few voices in opposition to the Alden Plan, a 1983 proposal for a seven story hotel containing 200 rooms 25 feet from the Lake's edge just north of College Street. The Alden Plan would have included 300 upscale condominiums, 145,000 square feet of office space, 65,000 square feet of retail space and a 1,200 car parking garage on what eventually became Waterfront Park.
All the politicians supported the Alden Plan. Mayor Bernie Sanders and 12 out of 13 City Councilors supported Alden. Even Howard Dean supported the plan. Rick argued the land filled into the lake over the past 200 years should be reclaimed under a concept of law called the Public Trust Doctrine instead. Alden needed a 2/3 majority for a $6 million bond in December 1985. The opponents held the majority to 53% and the bond failed.
In 1989 the Vermont Supreme Court agreed with Rick, ruling that the filled land in Burlington harbor is subject to the Public Trust Doctrine. That's why we now have ample park space, a bike path, a boathouse, a museum, marinas and restaurants open to the public on the filled land in Burlington harbor today.
The hotels and condominiums were instead located on the east side of Battery Street downtown, closer to the Church Street Marketplace instead.
We explain the full history of Burlington on our Segway tours at the sites we are talking about.
Rick is just finishing up his book: The Burlington Bicycle Path and Waterfront Park. This is Rick’s personal account of the creation of the Burlington Bicycle Path and Waterfront Park. And it is also the story of how the bikepath was then extended across the Winooski River and out to the Causeway to create the Island Line Trail in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rick then goes on to explore the future of alternate means of transportation for the Queen City in the years ahead.
Rick expects to self-publish The Burlington Bicycle Path and Waterfront Park in the summer of 2019. If you would like to read Chapter 15 – Across the Winooski, please visit Rick’s new website: