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SPMOS Observing Site – Lease is not being Renewed

Home Forums PAS Forum PAS Message Board SPMOS Observing Site – Lease is not being Renewed

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Norm Stevens 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Barry Simon

    We were stunned to learn a week ago Friday that our 10 year lease for the SPMOS Observing Site will not be renewed. It expires on November 7th. We have utillized the site since late 1994 (22 years). Henry Jenkins, son of Margaret Jenkins, the owner, was also stunned by this news. He has been in contact with his mother and he reports that she is adamant about wanting to sell. He reports to Ron Marcella that she believes she can get about $6000.00 per acre or about $240000.00 for the 41 plus acres that she owns. Time and interest in the property will tell if that is realistic.

    We are talking about what options we have and will ask Henry Jenkins several questions including –

    1) As the lease expires in early November (November 7th), can we continue to use it after the expiration of the lease, can we get a short term lease (month to month, or 3 month periods, etc.) or does she want us to be off the property by November 7th?. If the later, time becomes a factor as we basically have just one day this weekend, next weekend, and then the week after the Deep South to do everything necessary to be out of there.

    2) What do we bring with us when we vacate? Obviously we will dismantle the Observatory and store it or sell it. Same with the 11″ telescope. We also will be taking the riding lawn mower and other smaller maintenance items/tools.

    3) Not sure about bunks, that will have to be evaluated.

    4) It would be impractical/impossible to disassemble the bunk house as part of the lower walls is encased in concrete and we just do not have the manpower to take it down. But will we be forced to have someone else take it down for us which would cost the club money?

    5) We will need the utility company to have power turned off.

    There are a lot of “what abouts” to ask Henry Jenkins.

    Moving forward, we of course need to see just how long we may have at SPMOS, assuming a series of short term leases (rent) until the place sells, or if it ever sells. Obviously we should not expend money unnecessarily on improvements as we do not know when we will be out. Could be in 3 weeks or it could be months or even years.

    Assuming that SPMOS will shortly be a thing of the past (perhaps not, but just being pragmatic about all of this), what do we want to do about procuring another dark sky place to do astronomy?

    Club members need to weigh in and let the officers know what they would like to do. Have they been using the site? If we lose it, do they want to expend time and money in locating another site and expending time and money on it?

    We need to know what the membership is willing to do to help in the effort. In the long run it could be that only a small group of current PAS members really have an interest in such a project and they may want to do something outside of the club. Hopefully that does not have to happen. I believe SPMOS is something that has helped hold the club together.

    We will keep everyone posted as to what we learn over the weeks ahead.

    Barry Simon


    Norm Stevens

    Went out there this evening to gather the tools I left.. I couldn’t help but feel sad! This a place I liked to go as often as weather and schedule would permit. I was so excited about being able to help take it to the next level in this renovation we started. We were so close! But the work I put in pales in comparison to the work many of you did long before I came along. I have really good memories of the time I’ve spent there. As short a time as it might have been. Some of you guys have 20 years worth of memories.
    It is my sincere prayer that things work there way out and we can stay. But if not, it could be an opportunity to move into something cooler. Who knows?
    SPMOS was a big factor in my joining the club. I can’t make many of the meetings because of all the driving. I have learned so much from many of you and I hope that doesn’t go away if we lose the site. But star parties,as fun as they are, are nothing compared to being out with you guys on a dark clear night doing what we all love!


    Paul McDonald

    I certainly hope a month-to-month agreement can be reached; hope the sale of the property takes a long time. If not, I’m in favor of finding another place for observing. Anyone have contacts with the large lumber/land companies on the northshore? Maybe there is a tree farm somewhere that has a place we could at least set-up if not build some bunkhouse. Or a land company we could approach? Perhaps we could make some sort of arrangement with Bogue Chitto State Park about letting us use an area besides the cabin/campground area with the understanding that we offer more outreach? Or are the camping areas good for observing?

    Very sad to learn that we might very well lose SPMOS sooner than later. While I only had 4 years there, myself and my kids have had such wonderful evenings that it is hard to overstate how much we have loved it. Thanks to all that made SPMOS a reality; I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy the site and am so very bummed that it is coming to an end.


    Ronald Marcella

    Thanks to Norm and Paul for their thoughtful posts. One thing for sure is we are trying to pursue as many avenues as we can to try to find a solution or a replacement for SPMOS. It has been really frustrating for Norm and his son Zander, Barry Simon, Bill Davis, Jerry Labauve and myself, because we all put in so much effort, and were so close to finishing, what would have been a very nice improvement to the bunkhouse and would have eliminated the unpleasant odors and improved the general feel of the place.

    Ron Marcella


    Kent Birkle

    You sign the new waiver and your back in at SPMOS. The site can now be used I heard. Hope to make it out soon….!


    Norm Stevens

    the site can be used as I understand it, but the bunk house is still not habitable. repairs are moving ahead and hope to have things back in order within a couple weeks. so for now if you are planning to stay the night bring a tent or other accomodations. and know that at least right now the toilet in not operational. trying to get that fixed asap!

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