Opinion: HDC should support Solar project at City Hall

by Dave Strenski

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.


Citizens ask to put solar panels on City Hall at no cost to the city.

We have compiled a report 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 on the Sustainable Ypsilanti website. (3.7MB)

You can also read about the project in an article from the Ypsilanti Courier.

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:

1) 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.

2) There is no better location in terms of solar exposure and
public exposure.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) When no longer viable or necessary, the panels can be easily
removed.

7) The project will not cost the City or taxpayers even one penny.

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 at this email address: <hdc@cityofypsilanti.com>

Questions? Call Paula or Dave Strenski at 734-480-1587 or email stren@cray.com or paula@strenski.com.

Dave Strenki is a resident of Ypsilanti’s Eastside and helped design and install the award winning solar project at the Ypsilanti Food Co-op

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