I read with interest the op-ed by Lowell Observatory's Sole Trustee, W. Lowell Putnam, in response to the article you ran about Section 17.
As one of the many locals who has enjoyed access to the trails on Section 17 for decades, I'd like to thank and applaud the trustee and the observatory for ensuring that this wonderful place to walk, enjoy nature and de-stress exists just walking distance from west downtown. Long may this situation continue, along with the access via those trails to the city's Observatory Mesa Open Space directly to the west -- which otherwise involves a drive or a much longer hike in from the south or the north.
However, I'm wondering how the trustee's stated aim of ensuring that public access continues fits in with the new signs (red and white lettering bearing the words “No Trespassing - Private Property - Violators will be Prosecuted”) that have been posted in the past year? They've gone up at the edge of the main visitor parking lot, and along the western boundary fence of Section 17 where trails across the parcel meet those on city open space and the FUTS trail. They appear to supersede the old signs (green and white, which say “Lowell Scientific Preserve - hunting and camping, fires and vehicles prohibited”) that have been around the edges of Section 17 and Lowell Campus for over two decades. The message on the new signs is really quite different from the older ones, and doesn't exactly shout out “Welcome!”
It's good to know that Section 17 has had some varied uses over the years. I'm very familiar with the former radio relay tower, the Snowbowl pipeline, the converted dome for visiting astronomer accommodation ("The Chalet") and the squirrel study exclosures. They've all had a very small footprint on those 600 acres. I'm sure that I'm not alone in hoping that should Lowell pursue any future activities on this parcel, they will be similarly low key, and not impact the beautiful historic character of Lowell Observatory situated so marvelously amongst the pines -- or the forests beyond, which residents and visitors alike enjoy so much.