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Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

Milwaukee Community Sailing Center

A new standard for stewardship

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Sailing, one of the oldest means of emission-free travel, is often called a green recreational activity because of its minimal impact on the environment. This spring, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC) plans to open a $1.7 million facility that will reflect the sport’s eco-friendly roots. With its green building design and construction materials, resource conservation efforts, and energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling systems, the MCSC’s new facility will set a high standard for environmental stewardship on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The MCSC was founded in 1977 when a group of local sailing enthusiasts partnered with Milwaukee County officials to create a community organization that makes sailing accessible to everyone in the Milwaukee area, regardless of financial concerns, age or ability. In 1979, the MCSC constructed a small facility in the heart of Veterans Park, at the south end of the McKinley Marina. It opened a year later for lessons and rentals with a staff of 10 and a tiny fleet of Tech Dinghies, Volants and a safety boat.

As the sailing center’s membership grew, so did the size of the fleet, the roster of staff and the number and type of sailing courses offered. Since opening its doors, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center has taught nearly 15,000 adults how to sail on Lake Michigan, and given more than 18,000 Milwaukee children, as well as disabled adults, the experience of sailing. The MCSC now owns and maintains more than 80 boats, and its 700-plus members have access to the fleet after they successfully demonstrate basic sailing skills and earn a rating. The center offers adult and youth members a wide range of basic, intermediate and advanced sailing courses as well as regattas, and open sailing six days a week on a variety of boats.

The MCSC has been operating from a facility with no indoor plumbing and less than 900 square feet of administrative and classroom space for more than three decades. Through the donations of more than 500 individuals, organizations and corporations, the nonprofit raised enough funding to break ground on June 6, 2009, for a two-story, 6,000-square-foot structure with two classrooms, administrative offices, restrooms and showers, a reception area, an observation deck and a community room.

According to the MCSC, the geothermal system it is installing is a helical pier system that uses the constant temperature below the planet’s surface to heat and cool air and water by way of 12 wells bored at least 300 feet into the earth. Some of the MCSC’s other green initiatives include a rain garden that will catch and filter rainwater to prevent erosion and water pollution, as well as a wind turbine to create renewable wind energy. The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center staff plans to move into the new facility in April 2010, and expects to welcome the membership to their new digs during the 2010 sailing season.

www.sailingcenter.org / 414-277-9094/ 1450 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive.

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