Lowell Observatory, a non-profit research and educational institution located in Flagstaff, owns a 640-acre parcel of land formally identified as "section 17, Township 21 north of range 7 east of the Gila and Salt River base and meridian in Coconino County, Arizona", hereby referred to as Section 17. Section 17 was deeded to Lowell Observatory in 1910 by the United States Congress with certain federal encumbrances related to the permitted use of the land. While Section 17 is owned by the Observatory, if the land is not used for observatory purposes, the land would revert to the federal government.
Several bills have been introduced in the United States Congress in recent years that seek to release reversionary and reserved interests on Section 17. During the February 4, 2020 Council meeting, the Flagstaff City Council approved a letter of support of S. 242 and H.R. 401, the "Lowell Observatory Conveyance Act" to support Lowell Observatory in its efforts to improve its capacity for science and outreach.
Lowell Observatory is committed to only using the land for “observatory” purposes and is therefore planning to introduce a revised bill that would maintain the reversionary interest as they currently apply to Section 17 while allowing certain observatory improvements to be made such as a new road and other projects related to the observatory. Representatives from Lowell Observatory will discuss Section 17, the revised draft bill that it intends to introduce, and its plans for community outreach with the Flagstaff City Council.