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Oct 14

Solar City Hall (Reprise)

Comments (0) 11:00 AM posted by admin |

At 7PM tonight in Ypsilanti City Council chamber, local solar guru, Dave Strenski, will be following up on the City’s application to the Historic District Commission to put solar panels on the south-facing wall of city Hall.

More than a year ago, there was talk about a solar demonstration project for the City of Ypsilanti that would not only generate power, but it would act as a tremendous public relations tool for the City and community. In response to this idea, Ypsilanti resident Richard Murphy put up a challenge on Pledge Bank that encouraged people to donate money towards the design and installation of the project. As a result, YPSI Solar was born. The cost of the project was expect to be in the range of $19K with an additional $4.3K needed for engineering analysis. Over 80 people pledged support to the project, but in the end, the challenge fell short.

Never fear, Dave Came through when he secured a grant of nearly $40K to put solar panels on the Ypsi Food Co-Op as well as City Hall. With only a few minor details to overcome, the project was on its way to being a success.

This brings us back to the engineering report. With that in hand, Dave is asking for the communities’ support to ensure this project is approved and welcomed with open arms. Dave writes:

Dear Solar Supporter:

We have the final design. We have the money. We have the community support. All we need is the HDC to approve the project. Please spread the word to help convince Ypsilanti’s Historic District Commission to approve this project.

The Ypsilanti Solar Project is on the Historic District Commission agenda for this Tuesday evening October 14, 2008 at 7:00pm.

Dave Strenski will be addressing the Commission to ask for approval to install 12 solar panels on the back of the City Hall building. We need as many people as possible to attend as a show of support. The Commission is divided about whether to approve the project.

The attached document is a compilation of all past HDC minutes and City Council minutes pertaining to this project, plus an 1887 picture of City Hall from James Mann’s 2002 book, Ypsilanti, a History in Pictures (Arcadia publishing, Chicago).

Over the past 18 months the HDC has generally expressed support for this project, while also asking many questions about aesthetics, precedence, and impact on the building structure. Most recently the HDC requested a review of the design by a licensed structural engineer. On October 8th Fitzpatrick Structural Engineering completed this review, and we now have a final design which will not damage the old brickwork, and which may actually strengthen the building’s wall.

You can see the design HERE.

You can also read about the project HERE.

There will be an opportunity at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting for public input on agenda items. Below are a few points people could mention:

  • A role of government is to be leader in introducing and demonstrating new technologies. The Ypsilanti City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting this project.
  • There is no better location in terms of solar exposure and public exposure.
  • This project will put Ypsilanti on the map as a leader in implementing alternative energy. The installation will draw visitors and business interests. Rejecting the project is inconsistent with Ypsilanti’s role as a sustainable community that supports alternative energy. This project has already served the community and built excitement among citizens, and invigorated our downtown business community, and is consistent with the State of Michigan. energy goals.
  • The back of the building has no historic architectural features which would be obstructed by the installation. The profile of the building will not be significantly altered.
  • Assuming a four percent inflation rate on electricity and natural gas costs, the solar panels would pay for themselves and generate revenue for the City within 20 years of installation. Now that grant money will pay for the panels, we will generate revenue as soon as they are installed.
  • When no longer viable or necessary, the panels can be easily removed.

Your attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting will help ensure that Ypsilanti will remain an exciting and vibrant, historic and future-oriented community to live in. Please do bring your own positive message about why this project should be approved.

You can also send comments no later than 3pm Monday to the HDC HERE.

Questions? Call Paula or Dave Strenski at 734-480-1587

The project raises some interesting questions about Ypsilanti, historic preservation, and the future of alternative engery in the community. If you want this project to move forward, turn out in support. If you don’t want to see this project in our downtown, then you should also turn out to speak against the project.

I think this is a no-brainer, and I’ll be there supporting Dave.

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