Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mount Umunhum Revisited

I wrote a long blog about the abandoned Air Force base on Mount Umunhum a few months ago. It came back into the news again this week, with another visit of veterans and family to the dilapidated base, as reported in the Mercury news, complete with photos.

Also, the article pointed to an website run by Basim Jaber which contains pictures from both reunion tours.

The point of this article is that it is that we still need to pressure the Defense department to clean up this site and open it to the public. Below is a quote from the Mercury News Article on October 5, 1998.

"In 1986, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, a public agency based in Los Altos, purchased the summit for $260,000. But it has remained off limits because its 84 abandoned buildings are a crumbling ghost town contaminated with asbestos and lead paint. They must be demolished and hauled away. The district patrols the site, and trespassers can face fines of $300 or more.

For 22 years the district has insisted that the Defense Department pay for a cleanup. But the Pentagon has done little, largely because the base is in a remote location, with little political pressure.

"We want the Defense Department to clean it up as soon as possible so people can enjoy this inspiring place. This is one of the most scenic views in the Bay Area," said Rudy Jurgensen, a spokesman for the open space district.

Rather than clean the site up and repave the road itself — a job now it now estimates will cost $11 million — the district has spent its money, raised from property taxes on San Mateo and Santa Clara county residents, buying land. It has spent $52 million buying up 17,400 acres around Mount Umunhum — an area 17 times the size of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco — and named the area Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.

In 2002, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, announced he would push for federal funding to clean up the site and open it to the public, creating a South Bay park on par with Mount Tamalpais in Marin County or Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County. But he's had no luck. Honda's request for $4 million this year died in committee. He is now working to organize a meeting with Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Anna Eshoo, D-San Mateo, and John Paul Woodley, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works."

Let's see what we can do to pressure our government to take action on this cold war remnant.


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