By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 13, 2008 at 5:19 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

This spring, construction is scheduled to begin on Wisconsin's first entirely solar-powered development. The Bay View-based solar village is the brainchild of Ald. Tony Zielinski, who represents the 14th District.

"It is my responsibility to provide vision as far as jobs and the environment are concerned," says Zielinski.

Construction for this new development is scheduled to begin in April, and the plan includes numerous residential buildings with an emphasis on owner-occupied dwellings and one upscale apartment building.

The land for this project is between Logan Avenue and Bay Street, across Bay from Lake Parkway.  The northern boundary is Lincoln Avenue, and the southern boundary is Conway Street. The total size of the green space -- which until recently was home to an Army Reserve installation -- is more than five acres.

Bay View’s Barb Basaj is a solar energy site assessor and the owner of SunSpec, a company designed to help property owners decide if solar energy is a feasible option.

"When building new homes, passive solar heating and cooling should definitely be considered, because in our climate, heating and cooling are usually the largest portion of our home energy bills," says Basaj.

"Passive solar is the most efficient way to heat and cool using the sun's energy, because it requires no conversion of energy -- you're using the sun's heat energy directly, and designing in proper insulation to keep it from being wasted."

The land is ideal for a solar project, according to Basaj.

"In the city, it can sometimes be tricky to find a good location for solar, because homes are built close together and tall trees line many of the streets, but it can be done and has been done successfully," says Basaj. "When new developments are built, it's a great opportunity to plan for solar right from the start, to make sure there are sufficient open spaces that won't be shaded by trees in the future."

Zielinski agrees that the benefits of a solar-powered mini-community are numerous.

"First, it creates jobs for installers and manufacturers," he says. "Second, it helps the economy by reducing our reliance on the importation of foreign fossil fuels.  And lastly, it helps the environment because solar energy does not emit greenhouse gas emissions."

This year, Zielinski celebrates 20 years in political office after starting his career in 1988 as the first elected county supervisor of the 12th District. Zielinski was first elected to the Common Council as alderman in 2004 and was reelected in 2008.

Zielinski has a history of supporting environmentally and socially conscious projects such as Fair Trade Milwaukee, an initiative that educates the public about the importance of Fair Trade business practices. Milwaukee was the first city in the United States to receive the "Fair Trade" title.

The project is still in the very early stages of its evolution. Requests for Proposals will get sent out in about a month, and then the city will choose a developer. Zielinski says multiple developers have already voiced interest.

Zielinski hopes the project will spark more support for solar developments in Wisconsin.

"This will be a catalytic project that will speed up solar energy development in the state," he says.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.