With the Lowell Observatory looking to the future, some fear the public will not have a say locally

In addition, it is also possible for the City of Flagstaff to buy the land if they want it to remain fully open. The city already owns more than 2,000 acres of the Mesa Observatory, which has been reserved as a permanent open space.

Although the property is within the city limits, it has no current zoning and has long been used as an open space by the residents of Flagstaff.

During that council meeting, Bob Holmes, who lobbies on behalf of the Washington Observatory, stressed the rights that the Lowell Observatory has over the land.

“[It’s a] The misconception that it is open space is private land owned by Lowell with state encumbrances, ”Holmes said.

Hall said the observatory is committed to a public process that allows Flagstaff residents to weigh up while the observatory draws up a master plan for future projects on the mesa.

“We want it to be a community process. We’re trying to be part of the community and we definitely don’t want to do anything in a smoke-filled room, ”Hall told the Arizona Daily Sun.

It can take some time before such a master plan is drawn up with the involvement of partners from the community. Hall said it will be years before shovels hit the dirt.

Still, Hall said they hope a bill can be passed this year, and Senator Mark Kelly’s recent appointment to the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee could help make that a reality. But he said exactly what this bill might say is unclear and that has asked some in Flagstaff how much influence the public will really have.

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