Fate of Mt. Um Radar Tower To Be Decided Wednesday Night

Apparently yielding to public pressure, the open space district now has options to leave standing 'the Cube' on the former Almaden Air Force base—but groups must raise money


The decision on what to do with an historic Cold War relic commonly known as "the Cube" will be made Wednesday night when agency officials vote on whether the radar tower on Mt. Umunhum deserves to stand. 

A special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) will be held at Historic Del Monte Building, 100 S. Murphy Ave. in Sunnyvale, Wednesday night.

A closed session is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the discussion of the radar tower and other projects on "Mt. Um," as it is often called, will follow.

Three options have been on the table for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District—the agency that owns the property where the Cube is located at the former Almaden Air Force Base—but now, after public outcry from proponents of saving the tower the agency now has an asterisk next to what’s known as Option 3, the choice that preserves the radar tower. Those asterisks are “Interim Action A” and “Interim Action B” both which refer to saving and restoring the radar tower with money raised by those who want to see the structure preserved.

Some say the addition of the interim actions indicates that MROSD is taking into consideration the public call for preserving the local icon.

The Mercury News quoted MROSD chair Curt Riffle Tuesday as saying the board had shifted from its position that "the thing pretty much had to come down," to recognizing the tower's regional context, due to all the public input. The Mercury reported that the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission recently wrote in support of keeping the tower. 

Interim Action A provides for “near-term repair and securing” of the tower and allows five years for proponents of saving the tower to come up with the money to finish the repairs, maintain and secure the facility.

Interim Action B allows for a fence to be erected around the structure to the tune of $74,200 while private funding is sought by proponents. MROSD suggests that fence would need an 80-foot perimeter from the structure to “reduce the potential for human injury from loose objects falling off the tall structure, such as sections of the rooftop rail that have corroded and rusted over time” and that the fence erected in that perimeter may impede emergency vehicles from being able to turn around.

toward the preservation of the tower, and the group would need to raise the money needed, though it is not clear what involvement MROSD contemplates.


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