Don't give up on the lighthouse
The article written by Tom Shevlin about Beavertail Lighthouse ownership in the Sept. 27 edition of the Jamestown Press needs some clarification. The "final agreement over the management of the light" as stated does not rest with the US Coast Guard. Only the present renewable license arrangement is applicable. When the Coast Guard is ready to relinquish the site, a different set of government agencies enter into the process.
The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association (BLMA) has, over the past few years, been working with both the Town of Jamestown and RI State DEM in planning the future of the light station in preparation of the US Coast Guard declaring the property as "excess." For a number of reasons that decision has been delayed, but mainly because an environmental policy applicable to all landbased lighthouses owned by the Coast Guard is not yet in place.
When the light station becomes available for transfer, a clear and structured procedure for the transfer will take place under the "National Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000." The Coast Guard will declare the property as "excess" and turn it over to the General Services Administration (GSA) who will call for letters of ownership interest. Those who qualify will be turned over to the National Park Service (NPS), who in turn will invite competitive applications from those qualified state, city or town municipalities and non-profit organizations who wish to take ownership.
Since the beginning of our early planning, it had been understood that the State of Rhode Island would become the property owner and include a consortium of the Town of Jamestown as a partner and the BLMA as the site's operation manager. This concept has previously been acknowledged by RIDEM, the town council and the Planning Commission. The BLMA has been preparing the detailed criteria to make application to NPS on behalf of the state and town when invited to respond.
The Town Administrator's recent recommendation to have the town forfeit any claim to the property does help resolve and reinforce the understanding of future ownership, but the BLMA strongly advocates that the town remain a partner with BLMA and DEM.
Beavertail Point, its lighthouse, and its signifi- cance is embedded as part of the island history. More importantly, every islander takes a degree of pride that Beavertail light is an icon belonging to each of them. In the same vein, the Town of Jamestown should never relinquish its involvement in the light station's future.
Chairman Site Acquisition Committee