2008-05-22 / News

Beavertail advisory committee and BLMA waiting for licensing

By Sam Bari

The semi-annual meeting of the Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee focused on issues that must be resolved since the Town of Jamestown limited its involvement in the maintenance of the facility earlier in the year.

The U. S. Coast Guard formally owns the Beavertail Lighthouse and surrounding buildings. The Coast Guardmade a temporary licensing agreement with the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association so they can manage the facility and projects funded by grant money can move forward. The temporary agreement was made on May 1 and relieves the town of any liability issues.

Presently, the state Department of Environmental Management is maintaining the facility, but a security/ maintenance person cannot be hired until the state makes a formal licensing agreement with the Coast Guard.

Bob Paquette, DEM chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation, said that the same number of naturalists will be working at the lighthouse and aquarium, but since budgets have been cut, no one can work overtime. He also said that one new naturalist will be hired to replace one that is leaving.

BLMA Acquisition Chairman Varoujan Karentz said that a grant from the Champlain Foundation for $250,000 was recently secured to repair the lighthouse tower. He also said that another grant from the State Historic Preservation Society was in place to repair the buildings. Additionally, a grant from BankNewport will be used for a new fence, Karentz said.

DEM Associate Director Larry Mouradjian said that a formal agreement between the DEM and the Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department for their training exercises is now necessary since the town is no longer involved with the facility. Mouradjian said he would speak with Fire Chief Jim Bryer about the department writing a proposal concerning their intentions and desires.

Mouradjian said that the fate of the lighthouse facility is in the hands of the U.S. National Park Service in accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

The Coast Guard will declare the property as "excess" and release it to the General Services Administration (GSA) who will call for letters of interest. Those who qualify will be referred to the National Park Service, which will solicit competitive bids from those who wish to own the property. Until then, the present temporary license with the BLMA remains in effect until the state makes an agreement with the Coast Guard, Mouradjian said.

Paquette said that paperwork has been steadily going back and forth between the state and the Coast Guard, and an agreement is expected to be reached as early as July.

The Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee welcomed new member Anna Templeton-Cotill, who replaced Frank Meyer, whose term had expired. The committee also welcomed and congratulated Ken Rogers who was recently made Regional Park Manager. Congratulations were also in order for Bob Paquette who was promoted to DEM Chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation.

Then next Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15..

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