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Bayview off-leash dog park goes solar with $40,000 grant

A Puget Sound Energy service technician installs the metering equipment to allow the solar array to be connected to the utility grid at Marguerite Brons Memorial Park. - PSE photo
A Puget Sound Energy service technician installs the metering equipment to allow the solar array to be connected to the utility grid at Marguerite Brons Memorial Park.
— image credit: PSE photo

Bayview’s popular off-leash dog park has gone wet and solar, thanks to a $40,000 grant from an Australian beverage company.

The award by the Foster’s Group on behalf on Penfolds Wines was recently presented to FETCH! (Free Exercise Time for Canines and Humans!), a nonprofit organization that manages five off-leash dog parks on Whidbey Island.

The $40,000 grant was the largest made by Foster’s last year, and FETCH! won in a global competition. The Foster’s Community Grants program supports high-quality, sustainable community projects in Australia and North America.

The local group used the money to build a solar collector to power two new area lights. It also drilled a well and installed a pump, all at Marguerite Brons Park along Bayview Road just south of the Bayview park-and-ride lot.

“The well ensures that fresh water is always available, and the lights will extend winter visiting hours to early mornings and late afternoons,” said FETCH! spokeswoman Barbara Phillips.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark completion of the upgrades will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 27, at the park.

“Our grants are awarded to specific projects based on the quality of the benefits they deliver to local communities,” said Ed Matovcik, Foster’s vice president. “We were thrilled to help FETCH! It’s a win-win for strengthening the community while helping our environment.”

Langley resident Mark Rose wrote the grant proposal.

The $40,000 award was spent entirely on Whidbey Island, and donations of time and talent helped to complete the project, Phillips said. FETCH! volunteer David Rose was project coordinator, while Langley builder Bob Dalton handled many of the construction projects.

Whidbey Sun & Wind of Coupeville designed and installed the solar system, and other contributors included Curt Gordon of Island Asphalt, Puget Sound Energy, Double R Rentals and Island County, Phillips said.

The solar system is tied to PSE’s power grid, meaning electricity not used is sold to the utility. When there isn’t enough sun to meet power demand, electricity is purchased from the grid.

The park is expected to produce more clean solar power than it will consume, so property owner Island County should see a small annual profit from the installation, Phillips said.

The new features will lighten the load of volunteer Marge Wicher of Clinton. For years, she has hauled water to the park in dozens of plastic jugs several times a week. She also maintained the water station, Phillips said.

Marguerite Brons Park has two acres of open pasture plus 11 acres of wooded hiking trails. The entire park is surrounded by fencing.

FETCH! was founded in 1998. It’s main fundraiser is the annual Wine Tasting Walkabout, scheduled for Aug. 8 this year from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Buchanan’s Vineyard in Bayview.

For more information, call 360-678-4731 or e-mail fetchpres@whidbey.com.

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