March 10, 2006
Stanford University begins removal of Site 515 antennas
Stanford University today began the process of removing five radio antennas at Site 515 that were decommissioned for research purposes in 1979. The removal process is likely to take up to a week.
The antennas' concrete mounting piers, with carved signatures of many visiting scientists, are being preserved, and the university is looking for a suitable place to relocate them on campus.
For almost two years, the School of Engineering gave serious consideration to the possibility of restoring and operating the antennas. After looking at all the possibilities that were brought forward, including some from outside the university, the university concluded that there was no program for use of the dishes that served its academic mission. While various ideas were suggested, none of the proposals received the support of academic departments or faculty membersmanagerial and financial support that would be critical if the site were used for teaching or research.
Site 515 and the five dishes were last used in research conducted 30 years ago. In the intervening years, research and teaching have progressed in a way that makes the academic use of these antennas impractical and inefficient. No compelling academic mission was identified that would justify the substantial resources necessary to restore and operate the dishes.
Removing the dishes in no way diminishes the recognition of the significant research contributions made by Professor Ron Bracewell at Site 515, particularly through the use of the original 32 dishes that were dismantled in the 1970s. The antennas and buildings at Site 515 are not historic under any definition contained in the General Use Permit, Santa Clara County ordinances or Stanford's own stringent guidelines and practices for historic structures. The university evaluated the dishes using the same criteria used to preserve many historic buildings on campus and found that they do not warrant preservation.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The removal of the antennas is not open to press coverage. However, the News Service can provide photographic and other background material on the site. Contact the News Service at (650) 723-2558.