SOS – Save Our Skyline!

The Umunhum Conservancy is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Mt. Umunhum and its historic Radar Tower.


31 May 2017 Update: At the meeting of MidPen’s Budget Committee today they agreed to fund the engineering assessment of the Tower, to determine what specific repairs it requires.  This assessment is the necessary first step towards repairing and truly preserving the Tower.

This item will now move on to their full Board for their consideration.

Thank you very much to the 80+ members of the public and numerous public officials who submitted supportive comments to MidPen before the meeting!

The written response from the Conservancy to MidPen regarding this proposal is here.


28 May 2017 Update: Urgent: The Radar Tower is in danger (again)!  Tell MidPen not to go back on their word!
 
MidPen to vote THIS WEDNESDAY to abdicate their responsibility to fund Tower assessment and repairs
 
A year ago the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MidPen) formally agreed to retain the historic radar tower atop Mt. Umunhum.  They would no longer attempt to demolish the Tower in whole or in part.  
 
The next step: an engineering assessment of the Tower to determine what repairs it requires. This assessment was planned to take place in the Summer/Fall of 2017.  Once the required repairs were identified, they would be performed on some schedule after that, based on the results of the assessment.
 
When the Umunhum Conservancy met with MidPen management in August 2016 it was clear that MidPen recognized their responsibility to preserve and repair the Tower. Both the Conservancy and MidPen agreed that once the assessment was complete there might be an opportunity for the Conservancy to provide funding to accelerate repairs or perform repairs to a higher standard than MidPen might want to.  But fundamentally if you own a building you are responsible for its upkeep, and there was no disagreement on this.
 
Sadly they are now trying to abandon that responsibility.
 
At this Wednesday’s Action Plan and Budget Committee meeting the MidPen Board will vote on a proposal which would:
  • Cap the amount MidPen would pay for the Tower assessment at 10% of the cost
  • Require the Umunhum Conservancy to pay the other 90% of the assessment
  • Require the Umunhum Conservancy to pay for ALL needed Tower repairs, now and in the future
 
Why this sudden change?  Well, it seems that MidPen’s project at Bear Creek Stables is over budget by $500,000.  The Tower assessment will cost $472,000.  So if they simply don’t pay for the Tower assessment that they previously agreed to the books will balance!  Abdicating their responsibility to pay for the actual repairs will of course improve their books even more.
 
Please remind the MidPen Board know that they cannot walk away from their responsibility to maintain historic buildings that they own!  Please contact them TODAY!
 
You can contact them by:
The meeting is THIS Wednesday May 31 at 2:30pm at:
 
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
Administrative Office
330 Distel Circle
Los Altos, CA 94022-1404
 
 

 


On June 8th 2016 the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District’s Board of Directors voted to retain the historic radar tower atop Mt. Umunhum. The Tower will not be demolished!

Thanks to the community for your support!

What’s next?  Stay tuned!


Site Issues

13 March 2017  Unfortunately our website was recently hacked. All donor information is secure. We are in the process of restoring the site; until that is complete the links to donate and to register for upcoming presentations are unavailable.  We’ll get everything fixed as soon as possible!


Update: 18 May 2016

New Dates!

Come learn about the history of this fascinating site, see actual artifacts, and enjoy a slide show of amazing historic photos of the radar station when it was in operation between 1958 and 1980. Presented by Basim Jaber (Historian/Archivist and founder of the USAF 682nd Radar Squadron Veterans Association, and member of the Umunhum Conservancy Board).

For presentation dates and registration information, click here!


Update: 18 May 2016

Historic Update:  Big News and Next Steps!

Summary:

  • The historic radar tower atop Mt. Umunhum has been declared “historic”
  • It (probably) won’t be demolished or turned into a shade structure
  • The tower still needs repairs to truly preserve it
  • The Umunhum Conservancy looks forward to discussions with the tower’s owner on next steps

Details:

On May 10th 2016 the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to list the radar tower atop Mt. Umunhum on the County’s Heritage Resource Inventory. For the first time, the tower has official “historic” status! While listing on the Inventory does not make it impossible to demolish or decapitate the tower, it makes any such attempt much more difficult.

This is a major milestone in our community’s long effort to preserve the Tower and the history it represents. On behalf of the Umunhum Conservancy, I’d like to thank everyone for their support!

While preliminary, the tower’s owner, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MidPen), has indicated that they will honor the supervisors’ decision. Their General Manager was quoted in the Mercury News as saying “I think the tower is probably going to be there long after you and I are gone.” The Conservancy is happy that MidPen seems willing to drop their proposals to demolish the tower or to reduce it to a one story shade structure.

With this objective achieved, what’s next?

While the tower now is recognized as historic at the county level, it does not yet have such status at the state or federal level. The Conservancy will immediately begin working on those projects.

The tower still needs over a million dollars in repairs, according to MidPen’s 2012 estimate. If the tower is safe from demolition, we still need to move forward with those repair efforts. The tower must be preserved, not simply abandoned.

The Conservancy has been working since 2013 to raise funds to preserve the tower. To date we have raised approximately 25% of MidPen’s 2012 estimate. Many thanks are due to the wonderful individuals and businesses that have contributed to this effort to date!

Originally MidPen conceived this as an all-or-nothing proposition: either the Conservancy raised all of the necessary funds before October 2017 or else.  (MidPen never officially decided what “or else” meant, but the only reasonable assumption was that it would have been total or partial demolition).  As those outcomes are no longer possible, the October 2017 deadline is now no longer relevant.

The Conservancy believes that the all-or-nothing nature of tower repairs is also no longer relevant. Repairs necessary to preserve the tower should be performed as funds become available, with the most urgent repairs performed first.

The goal of such repairs should be to prevent further future damage to the tower (water intrusion through cracks and openings, etc), to resolve any necessary safety concerns, and to address aesthetic issues caused by MidPen’s interim repairs. The tower would remain sealed and the interior would remain off limits to visitors.

Unfortunately we have no details of the specific repairs that are needed at this point to preserve the Tower.  MidPen’s 2012 assessment contained a total cost, but no detailed breakdown of the projects that cost would cover.  (We have asked MidPen for these details numerous times but never received them.) In any case, an assessment done in 2012 would be obsolete in 2016; a new assessment is required.

Therefore at this point the Conservancy believes that the following steps are needed:

  1. An assessment of the tower’s current condition should be performed by an independent qualified contractor. That assessment should result in a prioritized list of specific repair projects that are needed, with an estimated cost for each. The Conservancy should pay for such an assessment and should select the contractor to perform it.
  2. Repair projects identified by the assessment should be performed as funds are available. The most urgent repairs should be performed first.
  3. The Conservancy should continue to raise funds for those projects, one at a time, until the repairs required to preserve the tower are complete.
  4. Follow up assessments by an independent qualified contractor should be performed every 2 years thereafter, paid for by the Conservancy.

We believe this course of action will insure that the tower is preserved for future generations while minimizing public expense and maximizing transparency.

I and the Conservancy welcome the opportunity to discuss the next steps with MidPen and hope to quickly reach a mutually agreeable plan going forward.

As things progress we will keep you updated.

Thanks again to the community for your support!

…Sam Drake / President / Umunhum Conservancy


Support from Local Leaders

Numerous local political figures and other community leaders support preserving the Radar Tower atop Mt. Umunhum.  Check out the list, and thank them for their support!