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Changes at Fremont Peak

Rick Morales


 

“The Park System is going to eliminate four trees from the area .... Yes, you know the ones.”

 

 

You may be seeing improvements to Fremont Peak State Park in the coming months. First, as you enter the park you will find some new pavement at the entrance and a large turn around area for people who arrive on the mountain too late to get through the new gate after closing hours. Yes, you read it correctly, a gate. It may or may not actually be closed and locked after dark but the possibility does exist that access to the park may be restricted. What will determine when and if access is restricted depends on staffing of the park. The State Park System is suffering through staff shortages and closing and opening the gate requires the presence of sufficient park staff. In addition to the turn around area and the gate, the entrance will make a definite statement that you have arrived at Fremont Peak State Park.

At the end of May the Park System will have chosen a contractor to begin construction work around the shop area and the observatory. Improvements will include new paving around the shop, a fence to screen the residence from the shop and define the fact that it is a residence and not just part of the shop, a pedestrian path to the observatory from the shop, an extension of the existing gravel road to include a loop around the observatory which will be supported by a three foot high retaining wall, a group activity area with wide terraced steps within the loop, eight 10x10 foot telescope pads with ac outlets across the road from the observatory, handrails and posts with subtle lighting which will be controlled by dimmer switches located inside the observatory, and other imrovements designed to make the observatory area a more desireable place for astronomers to gather.

Oh, yes, one more thing. The Park System is going to eliminate four trees from the area. One is a little tiny but old oak. Three are fairly young, big and healthy Coulter Pines. Yes, you know the ones.

All in all, I am looking forward to the improvments to Fremont Peak State Park. There has been discussion for years regarding things that could be done to make the park a better place for astronomy and the Park System folk have been listening. Funds have finally been obtained from Volunteer Enhancement Funds for the project. The project engineer, Joan Carpenter, was assigned the task of getting the project out to bid before the funding went away. There was little time for public input. The FPOA was informed of the project shortly before it went to bid and after the design was put on paper. The design doesn't please everyone but there will never be a project that will please everyone. I, for one, think the construction project will benefit the park, the observatory and all the people who will visit the park and who enjoy astronomy. We may suffer from the inconvinience of the actual construction process this summer but, in the end, it will be well worth it.

[Editors update (August 1): The contract has been signed in Sacramento, and work is expected to begin shortly after Star-B-Que!]

 


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