Nature-themed Playground, Green-energy Efforts in the Works

Baileys Harbor’s town board took steps toward more inclusive and greener practices Monday.

GameTime Playground Design

Parks Committee member Kari Baumann and Baileys Harbor Community Association (BHCA) coordinator Ellie Soderberg received board approval to begin fundraising to replace the old playground equipment in Kendall Weisgerber Memorial Park behind the town hall.

The new playground equipment will celebrate nature themes and have artificial turf instead of mulch groundcover for full wheelchair accessibility. The committee selected playground-equipment supplier GameTime, a choice the board endorsed.

Soderberg said the memorial in the park would not be eliminated; the slide would be kept at the playground for older children; and all of the older equipment would be moved for use at the Rec Park. By next spring, Baumann and fellow park promoters want to have playground equipment accessible to as many children as possible, ages 2-13. 

“The problem I faced when my children were playing was there was no equipment for toddlers,” Baumann said. 

She said her group and the BCHA will raise funds and apply for grants to fund almost 100% the playground costs – about $485,000 – although the town may need to help move the older equipment and prepare the site. Fundraising has begun in earnest during community events, through a Food Trucks and Floaties event just for the playground, sales of commemorative bricks that will be installed at the park, and other efforts at fall festivals.

Investment-grade Energy Audit

Later Monday, Thomas Huberty, comprehensive solutions account executive for Trane, showed the board some preliminary findings on how the town could save money on energy costs.

In March, the town board authorized Huberty and Trane to investigate energy inefficiencies and mechanical problems in the town hall/library building, at the marina, in the marina office and at the wastewater-treatment plant – the town government’s biggest energy user.

This month, Huberty showed the board ways in which it can realize significant savings quickly by upgrading to efficient LED lighting and installing improved air-handling equipment. 

Regarding other energy savings, Huberty asked for guidance about whether he should look into repairs and upgrades of existing equipment – such as the old boiler and problematic forced-air heating and air conditioning in the town hall – or consider using as much of the existing ductwork as possible and using heat pumps and a well drilled for groundwater for geothermal.

The board members gave Trane the go-ahead to work on proposals for geothermal energy for the town hall and library, plus solar power to help cut some costs at the wastewater-treatment plant. 

Board member Roberta Thelen said the board should act immediately and tap into greener energy sources and practices.

“I would say it’s our responsibility to do as much as possible to reduce our carbon footprint,” Thelen said, “and to accept that we have to change to clean energy and renewable energy. And the sooner we get going with that, the better. That’s something that needs to happen worldwide, and I’d like to see Baileys Harbor be a frontrunner on that.”

The town is paying Trane $36,000 to complete the extensive analysis. If it chooses to have Trane move forward with green-energy options, the town would owe Trane $36,000 and have a head start on pre-engineering and planning costs. If the board chooses to simply repair what it has, it would still owe Trane $36,000 after completion of the audit. If Trane completes the audit for $36,000, the board could still seek bids and choose another company.