MOUNT DIABLO -- A summit observation deck with some of the best panoramic views in the California state park system remains closed six months after it was supposed to be renovated and reopened.
On clear days, the rooftop deck of the Mt. Diablo State Park summit visitor center offers views of the Sierra Nevada, the twisting waterways of the Delta, and other spots 200 miles or more away. It is a highlight for many of the tens of thousands of visitors who come each year to the park above Danville and Walnut Creek.
However, this beauty for views can be a beast for maintenance.
Built of porous locally mined sandstone in the 1930s and exposed to weather and wind extremes at 3,849 feet of elevation, the summit building has a history of leaks and unsuccessful fixes.
State park officials closed the deck Sept. 1 for what they hope will be a permanent fix to stop the leaks that threaten the roof and the visitor center below.
The project was scheduled to be done in early January, but the latest estimate now is by fall, park officials said.
The delays occurred because of contracting difficulties this past fall, then winter storms caused new leaks and problems, said Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Parks and Recreation.
"It's not as quickly as we would have wanted," she said. "We don't want a Band-Aid solution. The project will protect the integrity of the structure and exhibits, and more importantly, be sound and safe for the thousands of annual visitors to the park."
In the latest fix, the state budgeted $583,000 to repair the roof, apply a protective coating, renovate the building elevator, and improve a viewing tower adjacent to the deck.
Rather than turn the project over to an outside contractor, the state parks department is having the work done largely by a unit of the General Services Department with experience in repairing historically significant buildings, Waters said.
This past week, work crews have been applying an insulated coating designed to prevent leaks.
Dan Stefanesko, Mt. Diablo's chief ranger and acting park superintendent, said he looks forward to having the deck open again to share with visitors.
"It's a destination spot," he said, "There are good views a little lower down in the parking, but this has the 360-degree views."
Construction of the summit building was started in 1938 by federal Civilian Conservation Corps workers who were stationed in a Mount Diablo camp -- one of many opened around the country to put people back to work during the Great Depression.
Work was halted in 1940 due to leaks through the porous sandstone and mortar, beginning a legacy of leak problems, according a history of the building by the Mount Diablo Interpretive Society, which raises money for park improvements.
While observation deck repairs continue, the beacon light on the summit tower next to the deck is in a shop for a $100,000 renovation by the Save Mount Diablo conservation group. That project also is expected to be done by fall -- in time for its annual lighting on Dec. 7 to remember Pearl Harbor victims.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.