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OLEAN – A partnership between the City of Olean and Bimbo Bakeries has brought a bit of relief over the expense of electricity in public parks.

Mayor Linda Witte, flanked by Ward 2 Alderman Ann McLaughlin; Chris Wiseman, general manager of Stroehmann Bakery, a subsidiary of Bimbo Bakeries, in Olean; and Mike Appleby, of Stroehmann, cut a ribbon Tuesday morning to officially mark the installation of new solar panels mounted on the roof of the William O. Smith Recreation Center in War Veterans Park.

The array of 12 Suniva 250-watt panels, along with a net array meter, will be used to power the Veterans’ Memorial on the east side of the park, and to partially supply the gazebo, according to Witte. The panels will generate approximately 3,400 kilowatt hours per year, offsetting about 25 percent of the energy it takes to power the park and the Recreation Center, she said.

The panels were installed by Allegany Renewable Technologies, of West Almond, and paid for by a grant secured by Bimbo Bakeries. The panels cost $11,900. The bakery, located in Olean for decades, also planted six trees in the park, at a cost of $1,055.

“This grant is part of our Good Neighbor program that is designed in part to enhance our communities through environmental improvements,” said Wiseman. “We are excited to give back to the community,which has supported us for many years.”

Witte said that with this project, the city is joining the national movement toward using solar power for public facilities. It is a continuation of efforts that have been in place for the pool at Vets Park. Water from the pool has been circulated through black tubes on the roof. That project has warmed the pool water by about 10 degrees.

“I’d like to thank Bimbo Bakeries U.S.A. for being so helpful in providing this energy-efficiency grant while partnering with us to help cut costs, which is the city’s job, after all,” said Mayor Witte.

Future plans include more panels installed on the roof to further reduce the energy costs. Eventually, the park would be energy neutral, according to Witte.