The town of Aquinnah moved one step closer to owning the Gay Head Light this week when it submitted a comprehensive application to the federal government for ownership.
The application follows months of preparation including geological surveys, historic research and site evaluations.
“It’s finished,” town administrator Adam Wilson, who spearheaded the effort, announced at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday. “I’m happy to report that I’m heading over to UPS with all the various binders and handing over the package. It’s been a long process but it’s been a good one, and there’s been a lot of support from the Gay Head Light committee,” Mr. Wilson said.
The town began planning for the acquisition project a year and a half ago. The 1856 lighthouse now stands 46 feet from the edge of a rapidly eroding cliff and must be moved sometime in the next year.
The U.S. Coast Guard declared the lighthouse surplus property last August under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, which allows the Coast Guard to transfer the ownership of 12 lighthouses annually that are no longer mission critical. The General Services Administration (GSA), which handles federal government real estate transactions, issued a notice of availability.
The National Park Service will now review the application and make a recommendation to the GSA.
Mr. Wilson thanked committee members Lenny Butler, Derrill Bazzy, Meg Bodnar and Mitzi Pratt for their assistance. He said grant specialist Alice Boyd also helped prepare the application.
“It’s been a real challenge but it’s coming to fruition,” Mr. Wilson said.
The selectmen thanked Mr. Wilson for his work.
“This is fantastic,” selectman Spencer Booker said.
“The way this community has gotten behind it and how people have a tremendous contribution in terms of seeing this through, I think it’s great,” selectman Jim Newman said. “For a small town like this to do something like moving a lighthouse is terrific.”
Edgartown recently acquired its lighthouse under the same program.
In other lighthouse news, the town committee overseeing the relocation project hired Tiffany Smalley as project assistant.
“Everyone is raving about Tiffany,” Mr. Newman said. “I’m excited she’s helping out.”
by Remy Tumin