One of my favorite places in the world, Perkins Observatory, is being threatened by a project currently being considered by the Delaware (Ohio) Planning Commission. To be fair, nobody is trying to actively harm the Observatory or its program. A developer wants to turn a portion of the golf course into housing and a big box department store. While Perkins attracts tens of thousands each year, it is difficult or impossible to compete with the plan based purely on a short term cost / benefit analysis. Perkins measures its success in lives impacted and the Planning Commission would be wise to take this into account.
Start with Christopher Kirchoff, who showed up as a volunteer High School Student and has gone on to many contributions at NASA including a role in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Erin Shea, another High School volunteer, is now doing graduate work at MIT. Finally, Rebecca Olson has moved from her volunteer days to working at the U.S. Bureau of the Census. With all the opportunities these people could have chosen from, they all volunteered at Perkins while in High School.
Each time Ohio Wesleyan hosts High School Seniors, they are shown the Observatory as something no other school of its size can compare with. In the Observatory's 86 years, there's no record of how many ended up attending Ohio Wesleyan in whole or part because of the Observatory. In years to come, the same opportunity will either be offered to coming generations of students or be unavailable as a result of this decision.
The lights from the store and the housing would end the night time programs Perkins Observatory currently offers. As Delaware contemplates its growth, the Planning Commission needs to take into account that the beautiful old building on the south side of town is home to an institution that is historic, priceless, irreplaceable and fragile.
For more information, check out the following:
Observatory website: http://www.perkins-observatory.org
Observatory Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=161540979387
If you are a Facebook member, consider joining the Perkins Observatory group. Share your story on the Faceook Wall.
Virtual tour: http://bit.ly/14M2Wi
The Delaware Planning Commission is expected to discuss the current development proposal at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 7 (Wednesday) at City Hall, just south of the intersection of Sandusky and Winter Street on Sandusky.
Attend if you can -- if not, pass this message on to others.