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UA may purchase 14 acres for Mt. Graham maintenance base

By Rachael Myer
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 25, 2000
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Maintenance operations for the Mount Graham International Observatory could have a permanent home pending Arizona Board of Regents approval today.

The University of Arizona is requesting to purchase 14 acres of land - appraised at $29,000 by the Arizona State Land DepartmentŲ- to house the maintenance operations of the Mount Graham International Observatory.

The Bureau of Prisons currently leases five acres of land to the UA for maintenance operations at the base of Mount Graham. The land is across the road from the Federal Correctional Institute in Safford.

Buddy Powell, Steward Observatory associate director, said the UA needs to move the Mount Graham Base Camp because the federal prison will need the land in the future.

"The federal prison has told us that it would be prudent to find a new location for the base camp," Powell said. "They're not kicking us out and they're saying it would be prudent for us to consider."

The UA's lease could be terminated with 30 days notice by either the UA or the Federal Correctional Institute, according to ABOR data.

"This is literally to replace leased land and land that will be owned by the University of Arizona," Powell said.

Regent Jack Jewett said he supports the UA purchasing land to permanently house the maintenance operations.

"We had this opportunity to purchase these 14 acres and all indications is it's a good one," Jewett said.

He added that the UA must be prepared in case the Federal Correctional Institute terminates the university's lease.

"I think this is a good, prudent business decision," he said.

Powell said the permanent home will be located about one-quarter to one-half mile west of its current location.

He added that the cost of the land is fair.

"Little over $2,000 an acre of land is a reasonable price of land in Arizona," Powell said.

Regent Judy Gignac also said she supports the UA's decision to purchase the land.

"They need to have a site to rely on and not be evicted in 30 days," Gignac said.

Powell said the Mount Graham Base Camp and the observatory will not change their operations with the extra land.

He said the UA wants to purchase the land because it had been approved by the Arizona State Land Department.

"Business as usual - just a one-half mile west," Powell said.

Jewett added that he expects the item to be passed on today's consent agenda without much discussion.

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