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West Ventura County

OJAI : Radar Tower to Stay, Weather Service Says

March 26, 1994|PATRICK McCARTNEY

The National Weather Service will not relocate a radar tower from Sulphur Mountain even if residents pay for the moving costs, a top Weather Service official has informed Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley).

But Gallegly questioned the statement by Assistant Administrator Elbert W. Friday Jr., accusing him of going back on an earlier promise to move the controversial radar tower if funds were found to pay for it.

"Your letter only clouds this issue further, and further illustrates the reasons for the ongoing credibility problems that the residents of Ojai have with respect to the National Weather Service," Gallegly said in a letter released on Friday.

Gallegly referred to a March 7 conversation with Friday. In that conversation, Gallegly claimed the administrator said the Weather Service would relocate the tower "if J.R. or I mean Mr. Hagman wants to pay for it."

Actor Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing on the television show "Dallas," has actively opposed the location of the radar tower.

Gallegly said Friday estimated the cost of moving the tower at $500,000 during the conversation. Gallegly then promised to find the necessary money.

In a letter sent to Gallegly's office on Wednesday, though, Friday said the Weather Service would be unwilling to move the tower regardless of the estimated cost.

"Aside from the cost, which could run into millions of dollars by the time new land is acquired and improved," analysts determined the Sulphur Mountain site was the best of 32 possible locations, Friday stated.

Friday said tests have shown that area residents are not threatened by the installation, and that a federal district judge has ruled that the Weather Service has satisfied environmental safeguards.

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