Important Local Attraction Under Threat


Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut
Martz/Kohl Board of Directors

Frewsburg, New York is the proud home of the Martz-Kohl Astronomical Observatory, now one of the finest institutions of its kind in the Northeast and a valuable local asset for STEM education in schools across the region. Martz-Kohl also collaborates with NASA in education and research along with colleges, universities and other astronomical associations around the world.

The Martz-Kohl Observatory once called itself one of the region’s “best kept secrets” but today welcomes as many as 100-200 hundred guests and school students every month, sometimes more than 100 in a single day, along with visitors and tourists to Frewsburg from across the country and around the world.

The unprecedented growth and success of the Martz-Kohl Observatory in recent years is due to hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed by local foundations, citizens and the State of New York along with the dedication, personal labor and contributions of its all-volunteer staff, local association members and residents. Martz-Kohl is a not-for-profit institution dedicated to public education.

Don’t Dump on Us
Recent reports have brought to light an attempt to install a massive, active waste disposal dumpsite within view of the newly expanded and improved observatory grounds and its sensitive research telescopes.

The motives for such a destructive and unnecessary adventure at this site, spearheaded by a company called Sealand Waste in Rochester, New York, are difficult to understand or explain. A regular flow of heavy trucking, transporting large quantities of potentially contaminating waste to this otherwise ecologically pristine section of Chautauqua County are well known to be incompatible with the existence of a valuable resource like Frewsburg’s Martz-Kohl Observatory.

Airborne particulates from dust and combustion, the risk of groundwater contamination, ongoing sound and bedrock vibration under the observatory and its sensitive equipment and optics cannot be reliably prevented, along with many other serious and well recognized problems. These have already been shown to be incompatible with established regulations of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Permits for this misadventure have been denied previously, courts have ruled against it and local town and farm residents in have objected strongly. Yet the more that Frewsburg, the county and state support their investment in science, education and tourism, the more some factions appear to support its destruction. Motives of land speculation for profit at any cost seem the only ones offered to date.

The fact that Chautauqua County already operates a highly successful site – with assured growth potential for at least 20 years into the future – at an already approved location, further heightens the mystery behind this bizarre attempt to intrude into Frewsburg’s clean and scenic countryside.

No remedies can assure the safety, continued growth or even the existence of one of Frewsburg’s finest – and no longer secret – assets.

The Martz-Kohl Observatory asks our many local friends to continue your valuable support for, and interest in, science, education and in attracting worldwide tourists for a fascinating journey through the cosmos, right nearby in Frewsburg, New York, at the Martz-Kohl Observatory. It is your observatory because of your support. Thank You.

For a deeper look at the night sky, planets, stars and the entire universe, visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory online at, check the schedule of events and visit in person. Thank you to Hall and Laury Opticians for sponsoring these Martz/Kohl column.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.