No – there are NO public restrooms at the park
- Community Garden
- Picnic Table
- Walking Trails
About the Park
Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) has been referring the newest public park space simply as “the 311 North Ave park property.” This afternoon people gathered to celebrate the park’s new official name.
Unlike today’s park space, the history of the land hasn’t always been a positive story. Beginning with the original colonization of Abenaki land, this land has also housed a misused orphanage where many children experienced abuse, followed by the unfortunate closure of Burlington College, a beloved local arts college. Now in public hands, the park is embracing a management plan that centers on healing and reciprocation. It will be, in perpetuity, a space for learning, sharing, and reflection.
“Expanding and revitalizing Burlington’s public spaces and access to recreation has been a priority of my Administration for almost a decade, and Kieslich Park represents a major success in this effort,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am thankful to the Hoehl Family for their generosity that made this day possible.”
About the Park Acquisition
The vision for the park began as early as the 2000’s with then Mayor Peter Clavelle, but it wasn’t until 2015, under the administration of Mayor Miro Weinberger, that the City secured 12 acres of waterfront land, preserving it for conservation and public enjoyment. The process involved creating a development agreement to ensure the conservation of the property and maintenance of the well-established public connection to the Waterfront and Greenway. This arrangement preserved 43% of the original property for open space, protecting it from future development.
The $2 million purchase price of the land, after Burlington College closed, was made possible with the use of several funding sources including: the Burlington Conservation Legacy Fund, Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund, the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program, and private donations from John Hoehl and family, facilitated with significant support from the Vermont Land Trust, Champlain Housing Trust, and the Parks Foundation of Burlington.
About the Park’s Namesake
Today people gathered to unveil the BPRW branded park sign boasting the new park name: Kieslich Park. The Hoehl Family, who donated significant funding for the park acquisition, Red Stone Cottage improvements, and the planned improvements to the pathway, desired to honor the maternal side of their family legacy. The new park name honors their mother, Cynthia Kieslich Hoehl.
In naming ‘Kieslich Park,’ Burlington also acknowledges the valuable contributions that the Kieslich family has made to the City since arriving over 135 years ago. The Kieslichs became a prominent family of merchants, craftsmen, and contractors in Burlington’s thriving German community in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Kieslich family became part of the fabric of the community and served in many capacities including City Alderman, School Board, and Leaders in Higher-Education. A Kieslich also served as one of the first female officers of the Burlington Police Department, and the Kieslichs also gave back financially with philanthropic gifts. One such philanthropist, Cynthia Kieslich Hoehl, had quietly served the Burlington community throughout her lifetime with organizations such as COTS, The Boys & Girls Club, Lund Family Center, The Stearn Center for Language and Learning, and so many more. As a child, Cynthia Kieslich spent some time at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage.
John Hoehl, one of the major donors for the park, noted that he and his mother, Cynthia Kieslich Hoehl, had “talked about this land in the latter years of her life. She had wanted to purchase it and make something good happen here. It was a very valuable piece of real estate, and there was much competition. I think that she would be very pleased that, in a small way, she played her part to enable the space to be preserved for the people.”
Just as the Kieslich family served their community for many generations, and the Hoehls continue that tradition, the new Park will serve the Burlington community and will be a place of peace and refuge for the community for many years to come.
About the Park Now and Into the Future
Today, the park is a hub of activity. Not only has the neighborhood development embraced the open space to play and picnic, but it also is home to our Conservation Team, community garden site, and more.
BPRW Director Cindi Wight shared, “we are in great hands with this property, with Dan Cahill, our Land Steward, and his team onsite. It is a treasured Burlington property and we have many to thank for the hard work of acquiring the land for public access.”
The developing management plan includes a balance of uses, but it is rooted in the concept of reciprocity and the central themes of connection and healing for the variety of essential functions for humans, wildlife, and plants. The goals of the site are to manage the natural landscapes through restorative and regenerative practices, maintain east/west access to the waterfront and the adjoining properties for humans and wildlife, and provide passive recreation and opportunities for community education.
The property is home to the Lakeview Community Garden, one of 14 Burlington Area Community Garden sites that serve over 1,400 people a year. The Conservation Team also uses the park space as a tree nursery to propagate and grow new trees for our parks. By partnering with UVM and the American Chestnut Foundation, they have been growing hybrid chestnut trees to re-establish the once important tree species back into our City’s canopy. They also make use of the garage bays for much-needed storage of tools and equipment that support many hours of volunteer projects in all the conservation areas.
The Red Stone Cottage, is currently used as office space for the Conservation Team. The original bungalow was designed by architect Frank Lyman Austin for Dr. Walker D Berry and was constructed of local redstone and surrounded by porches. Future renovation plans, designed by architect Jay White, will convert some of the space for public use, including meeting rooms, public computer access, restrooms, and nature-focused education programs. The design will also restore some of the porches and create a glass-walled walkway linking the old and new parts of the building.
Kieslich Park is also hosting the inaugural edition of a Poetry Walk, inspired by the connection of healing, nature, and revolution. The poems feature the works of Indigenous and Black Poets to share poetry based on this theme. Visitors can read the poems on custom laser-carved panels and scan the QR code to hear the poems read aloud by the authors. Additionally, future designs are being developed for improving the trail linking the Greenway and North Avenue and making a connection with the planned accessible trail from Cambrian Rise.
Kieslich Park is and will continue to serve as a vibrant community space for residents and visitors to find connection and healing within our City’s amazing natural environment.