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Advice for lobbying a park to allow stargazing?

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#1 bouldergti


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Posted 05 August 2013 - 10:56 AM

There is a very nice park near my home that has a lot of promise as a stargazing spot. Unfortunately it closes at dusk. Any ideas on where to start with regard to getting the park to allow stargazing at one or two areas of the park?


#2 sleepy


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Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:03 PM

What I did was talk directly with the people there during the day. Explain and be ready to show the benefits of this etc for the community.
Talk to city hall, send some emails. Invite them to see what the plan is.
It's pretty easy when you actually speak face to face too.

That's all I can recommend.
Let us know how it goes!

#3 MikeBOKC


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Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:36 PM

It appears that this is a county park, so talking to city government would be futile. Find the actual governing agency that manages the park, which will likely have an elected or appointed board or commission setting policies for it. Then approach the staff with a proposal to open the park for astronomy, which would likely need to go before said governing body for approval.

#4 csrlice12



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Posted 06 August 2013 - 07:22 AM

....county ordinances require that the park lites be turned on when the park is open for public use during the hours of darkness.....

that one's got to be in the lawbooks somewhere...no doubt thought up by someone well meaning...problem is, that some take the law literally, common sense has left the building.....

#5 tedbnh


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Posted 06 August 2013 - 09:51 AM

A savvy friend suggested starting by offering to hold some free skywatches for the public in that park after dark. This way you are starting by offering instead of asking, and it allows you to bring up the issues like leaving the lights off but as a benefit rather than as a risk. Once you have done that a few times, it's a lot easier to bring up the subject of coming in for club observing without the public there.

Of course, if you can offer an ongoing series of public events in return for permission to use the park yourselves, everybody wins.

#6 schluterdude


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Posted 06 August 2013 - 04:01 PM

My astro club usually gets invited out on nights when there are camp outs, etc. going on in the park to put on a show for the campers. Some of the areas would be sweet if we could get away with just amusing ourselves, but, sacrifices must be made! Plus, it gets your foot in the door for later on down the road :)

#7 csrlice12



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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:06 PM

Truthfully, as long as it isn't fenced in or locked up....go ahead and use it...rarely will anyone do anything about it, and most cops will leave you alone once they see what you are doing...unless, of course the park is closed at night due to a high crime area.

#8 Skylook123



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Posted 17 August 2013 - 10:12 PM

Most parks have mission statements that include raising of environmental awareness of the public.

Five years ago or so, some of us club members wanted a closer dark site to our part of town that would be open for our night use. We approached Catalina State Park, and all they asked us to do was set up in a lot near the trail head (no lights, except on a bathroom), and share the views with any local hikers after dark, and we could have free admission! In about five sessions, we had exactly two customers for about ten of us who set up. Then we and the park got serious and are now helping the park pursue International Dark Sky Park status, so now we advertise official outreach events about three times a year where we get a dozen of us and about 200-300 visitors. GREAT nights, on the way to achieving the status with other work; three of us became official volunteers as Resource Inventory Managers. And, we can still set up anytime without charge, as long as we let any late hikers share. On those nights, we actually have it to ourselves!

All it took was just asking the park, and stressing the environmental awareness mission included the night sky.

#9 csrlice12



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Posted 18 August 2013 - 11:51 AM

Here in Denver, they're talking about charging exercise groups for using the city parks....

#10 Jim T

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:57 PM

I would advise that you work first with them on some publicized "public nights". Such departments usually have a PR person. Work with them. We started out with one per month from May thru September, and now do outreach there every Friday night (weather-permitting) and a tiny section of the park is now open for this use 24x7x365. Keep in mind that a park that is open is a park that in their mind must be frequently checked for security. Our local rangers kick out teen "parkers" frequently. For them, it is about public usage of parks, and low "maintenance".

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