Aug
03
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Friends of the Goldendale Observatory’s Outdoor Lighting Proposal presented by Anna Graham at City Council on Monday, Aug. 3

Goldendale Community Radio is looking for a volunteer to attend the Goldendale City Council Meeting on Monday, August 3rd at 7pm to record the Friends of the Goldendale Observatory’s Outdoor Lighting Proposal presented by Anna Graham. The Radio Station has a digital audio recorder available to loan out. kvgd (at) kvgd (dot) info if you can help. Thanks!

Anna Graham will be introduced by Goldendale Chamber of Commerce’s outgoing Executive Director, Earlene Sullivan. The lighting proposal will cover how the public benefits from improved lighting standards. Revision by the current Council would bring 2015 changes to the 37 year old lighting ordinance. The lighting ordinance currently on the City’s books has been described as “outdated, confusing, vague.” Anna Graham plans to explain to Council members the reasons why the current lighting ordinance as it exists is not enforceable by today’s lighting standards. The proposed changes to the ordinance would bring the City’s lighting code requirements into the 21st century, taking into account changes in lighting technology that have occurred over the past four decades.

Council members have heard before how the Observatory is a destination for tourists. During April through September from Wednesday to Sunday each week when the Park is open to visitors, the flow is steady. People are drawn here to experience one of the few publicly accessible large-scale telescopes in North America. According to Earlene Sullivan, commercial enterprises of all kinds benefit from these destination travelers, not just the fueling stations, but also grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.

The International Dark Sky Park Silver Tier award granted to the five acre State Park Observatory, has helped popularize Goldendale as a place where amateur astronomers of all ages come to see the stars. It is common knowledge among local dark skies’ enthusiasts that the IDA designation may be withdrawn if the slow erosion of Goldendale’s dark skies continues through the effects of increased light pollution. While the Chamber of Commerce and local citizens have presented the case for preserving dark skies to the City Council twice during the past year, other Council matters have superseded consideration of changes to the lighting ordinance until now.

During last spring’s presentation to the Council, members were informed that negative comments made by visitors to the Observatory have been increasing in frequency due to excessive brightness of Goldendale’s unshielded commercial lighting such as that seen at the Highway 97 north entrance to the City. While a few comments by unhappy stargazers may not seem to be of much importance, they are a concern when considering that the International Dark Sky Park Silver Tier status may be re-evaluated by the IDA. If the trend continues, the Park’s preferred status could be downgraded, or even de-listed.

Members of Friends of Goldendale Observatory and the Chamber of Commerce are working to prevent that from happening by asking the Council during regular session to consider revisiting the Lighting Ordinance. Supporters of dark skies and the Observatory are invited to show support and attend Anna Grahams’ presentation on Monday, August 3, 7PM in the Council Chambers.

More information about the Goldendale Observatory Park’s designation is online at http://darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/dark-sky-parks.