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Planetarium gets a reprieve

Nevada Appeal editorial board

If University of Nevada, Reno officials were trying to get the attention of Fleischmann Planetarium supporters, it worked.

The announcement last month that UNR planned to raze the unique building and replace it with a parking garage — with no clear idea what might happen to the programs offered by the planetarium — was enough to raise the eyebrows of every Nevadan who took a field trip there as a student.

Then came the phone calls, petitions and letters to the editor typical of a grassroots campaign to save a 40-year-old building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

UNR’s plans seemed a little vague to begin with. Something would happen by summer, officials said, and they were hoping the community would step forward to find a new location. So if the idea was to galvanize the community, or at least send up a flare to see if anybody noticed, then that was a crafty move.

On Friday, Provost John Frederick announced he was heading a task force to examine alternatives and provide more time — up to three years, it was reported — to figure out the best plan. The clock is ticking, but the deadline isn’t quite so pressing.

There are two issues here — the building, which apparently can’t be moved because of its architecture, and the planetarium’s programs.

The only solution that solves both is for UNR to build its parking garage elsewhere. That should be the focus of the task force’s efforts.

If the building can’t be saved, then the planetarium could go anywhere suitable. And if Reno isn’t interested, we think a planetarium would look good next to Western Nevada Community College’s new observatory.