BY LISA PERKINS
TRAVERSE CITY — Cherryland Electric Cooperative has helped secure the future of the Historic Barns Parks with a donation for renovations.
The local utility, by pledging $22,000 in energy optimization funds, will help fund the installation of ground-source heat pumps. The project will provide geothermal heating and cooling for the barns as well as an educational demonstration of geothermal technology for park visitors.
"We felt that the barns park was destined to become a place to come and see things being done, a place for active agriculture and a place to come and learn about things," said Matt Cowall, executive director of the City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority.
Cherryland's general manager, Tony Anderson, said that by contributing to the efforts to preserve the historic barns, the utility would be able to fulfill a state mandate to save kilowatt hours by providing an educational experience for the community.
"It is a win, win, win situation for us, the barns and for the community — everyone wins when the barns are heated and cooled in the most energy efficient manner," he said. "It was just a simple connection of the dots for us."
Cherryland's pledge goes along with other phase I improvements to the historic barns area in the Grand Traverse Commons. In addition to heating and cooling, other efforts include fire suppression, restrooms and first floor renovations. The park is in the first year of a three-year, $1.5 million fundraising campaign to support improvements.
"The rest is really an open book. If improvements fit with our goal of education and energy efficiency, we are open to ideas," Cowall said.
Once fully restored, the Recreational Authority plans to use the Cathedral Barn for events such as outdoor concerts in the natural amphitheater, farmer's markets, weddings and community events.