So says Paul Rogers in this morning’s Mercury News.
After more than 22 years of bureaucratic inaction, efforts to clean up a former Air Force radar station on a scenic mountaintop above Silicon Valley and open its summit to hikers, bicyclists and picnickers may be finally gathering momentum, locally and in Washington, D.C.
“It feels like all the pieces are coming together and that it’s going to happen this time,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell. “Why should only rich people have a view? It should be available to everybody.”
At issue is the former Almaden Air Force Station, which operated from 1957 to 1980 on the top of Mount Umunhum. Named for the Ohlone Indian word for hummingbird, the 3,486-foot peak towers above South San Jose and Los Gatos on the chaparral ridges between Lexington Reservoir and Almaden Quicksilver County Park. But it remains off limits because 88 buildings where Air Force crew members and their families lived and worked sit abandoned — a crumbling ghost town contaminated with asbestos and lead paint.
At 3,486 feet, Mt. Umunhum is the third-highest peak in the San Francisco Bay area. Right now it contains a huge concrete block that looks like a chunk leftover by a Borg scouting mission. Maybe it’ll look better if they paint it green.
Opening the peak is an essential outlay of taxpayer dollars because Silicon Valley must have more vistas to gaze down upon its greatness.
We had quite a debate on the copy desk as to whether anybody calls this peak “Mount Um.” Anybody ever heard this before?
Yep, I’ve heard of “Mt. Um”…..and many others…. the cube, sugar cube, box on the hill, tower, monolith, silo, etc.
Fact is, it’s a 80-foot 5 and 1/2 story concrete building which served as the pedestal of a 125-foot wide, 40-foot tall, 85.5 ton radar antenna “sail” which rotated 5 times per minute. It was a model AN/FPS-24 long range search radar with a 250-mile range (distance and bearing) and was one of 12 like it in the United States (Almaden being the 2nd production model). The model 24 was a frequency diverse radar build by General Electric.
We (Bay Nature) had a recent article about Umunhum and the Sierra Azul range: http://baynature.org/articles/jan-mar-2009/out-of-the-blue And our most recent video includes info about that building: http://baynature.org/videos/sierra-azul-hike
I’ve never heard Mt Um, though…