Worley Observatory leased to local astronomy group
Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Club gets 5-year lease on facility
The Ralph A. Worley Observatory has sat tucked away in South Caddo Parish for almost 40 years.
The facility was originally built by the Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society in 1964. Since its inception, the facility has allowed students and stargazers to view the marvels of the galaxy, like Halley's Comet in the mid-1980s.
While the facility has given the public a unique outlet, funding hasn't been there to keep up with modern standards.
SBAS Public Relations Committee member Terry Atwood says work needs to be done to both the 16-inch and 6-inch refractor telescoples, as well as some other repairs.
"We need to do some work on the roof and the leaks we keep patching, but it doesn't solve the problem," said Atwood.
In order to gain funds to spruce up the observatory, the astronomers needed long-term control of the facility, which the Caddo Parish School Board has owned since the 1960s.
Without a long-term lease beyond a verbal agreement, the astronomy society was finding it hard to raise funds or sponsors for major renovations.
SBAS President Jody Raney says it's taken a year to work out a lease. Last week the group was offered the only bid on the property.
"As of 10:30 this morning, they opened the bids and we were the highest bidders," said Raney.
The agreement with the school district gives the society a 5-year rolling lease over the next 50 years.
According to Director of Communications for Caddo Schools Victor Maniero, the district didn't have the budget to make the improvements. He says the lease was the right move for the observatory's future.
"They can actually use some funding to make the renovations they need, that they're looking to do to bring more people in," said Maniero.
The astronomical society plans to add more parking and sidewalks to make getting around the observatory easier.
Renovations should also help expand their star parties, which are held on the third Saturday of each month.
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