Digest>Archives> August 2008

Wickie's Wisdom

By Timothy Harrison


Connecticut's Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse was apparently loved enough by public officials to have it appear on a license plate, but the people who live near it, apparently, either don't love it enough to care for it, or don't have the courage to stand up against their community leaders who don't want the community to own and care for their lighthouse.

The often-photographed lighthouse has become an icon of sort for the State of Connecticut. In fact, it's been so popular that many tourists seek out the lighthouse, but are rudely awakened when they soon learn that the people who live around the lighthouse don't want them there. Not only do they not want you in their exclusive neighborhood, it would appear that they don't feel it is the community's responsibility to care for the historic structure.

While local lighthouse groups and communities around the nation are scrambling to proudly take ownership of their historic beacons, the community officials of Old Saybrook have a different attitude. One local official wants the federal government to continue to take care it, contrary to the government's desire to excess all lighthouses under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

Fortunately, there seems to be at least one nonprofit, from another state, which apparently does have a desire to apply for ownership of the lighthouse. If the group, Oak View Preservation, does apply for ownership of the lighthouse, one can only wonder if the community would welcome them with open arms.

Maintaining the lighthouse could be costlier than it should be, since the local community controls the land access to the lighthouse, which would require all restoration and maintenance most likely to be done from the water, via boat.

On the other hand, if no one applies for ownership, the General Services Administration could auction the lighthouse off to the highest bidder. If it should get sold to a private individual, what if the new owner opens a gas station and take-out service from the lighthouse for boaters? Or, how about a lighthouse pub and pizza parlor? Maybe they could paint a large pizza logo on the lighthouse. I wonder how the locals would feel about that.

You may think it a bit odd for me to make these statements, but then it does make a point, now doesn't it. Obviously, those things can't happen, but I only say to show that I would hope to see the local community in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, reconsider, and take the initiative to take on the long term care of the historic lighthouse in their community that they should be proud and honored to do, rather that leave that task to anyone else.

This story appeared in the August 2008 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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