Sitting at my computer looking out the window at a bright sparkling blue ocean, I am thinking about another lighthouse thousand of miles away because of a letter I received this morning. The lighthouse preservation group in the US that I am involved with, SAL (Save A Lighthouse), from the very beginning of its existence has been interested in a small lighthouse off the southern shore of Lake Superior called Gull Rock. When Gull Rock Lighthouse became eligible for ownership through the National Lighthouse Preservation Act, SAL submitted a letter of intent for the lighthouse. At that time, GSA received letters of interest from three interested groups. SAL requested a meeting of the three groups hoping we could work together to save the lighthouse. The result of that meeting was that SAL and the Michigan Lighthouse Preservation Group decided to support a new group based near the lighthouse. We assisted them in every way we could with the paper work. Some time during their application process, the local group decided not to complete the application. We were told the decision was based on the complexity of the application process, and they would prefer to wait until no one took ownership under the National Lighthouse Preservation Act and it was put up for public auction.
Today, I received a letter from the National Park Service saying they were opening up the application process again to the original groups who submitted interest. It is almost two years since SAL submitted our letter of interest. This time, we will have to pass as we are too committed to other projects to take on anything else at the current time. It was a frustrating decision to make, as we want Gull Rock to have a dedicated owner. We will do everything we can to support the only group left from the original letters of interest if they move forward with an application.
Evaluating what has happened, I now realize that we may have made a mistake in our support of a newly formed local group’s application. I still strongly believe that a group based near the lighthouse can do a better job of taking care of a facility than a group 400 miles away, but it is difficult for a newly formed group to complete the application process. The process under the National Lighthouse Preservation Act is complex and takes time. In this situation, if the local group had dropped out earlier, maybe things would not have changed so much for the other interested parties.
Having said all of this, Gull Rock Lighthouse is back on the table to only the original groups who submitted interest. We are beginning the process all over again, and it will be another couple of years before it is completed. When the inspection of Gull Rock was done a year ago, the building was in extremely bad condition. Will it even still be there in another two years for someone to take possession of? I hope so.
This story appeared in the
July 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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