It appears that Maine’s Squirrel Point Lighthouse is now getting a new lease on life thanks to a Coast Guard license that was recently granted to the Citizens for Squirrel Point.
The lighthouse has been surrounded in controversy for years, all of which were started with apparent good intentions, but most caused harm to the light station and delays in saving it and opening it to the public.
In 1998 the ownership of the lighthouse, located on the Kennebec River, was transferred to a private owner, a move that disturbed many because it had circumvented the Maine Lights Program. When, on more than one occasion, the owner attempted to sell the lighthouse, which he had been given for free, for a giant profit, it raised an uproar especially when it was stated that the lighthouse was out of compliance with provisions of the deed requirements of the transfer of ownership.
In 2003 the Citizens for Squirrel Point, under the leadership of Lee Johnson, along with Chris Neagle, filed a lawsuit in federal court to have the deed revoked and ownership of the lighthouse reverted back to the federal government. During most of this time the Coast Guard remained silent, not wanting to get involved.
However, in 2005 the federal court revoked the deed and returned the lighthouse to government ownership. However, the Coast Guard and the federal government again dragged their feet, unable to make a decision as to what to do with the lighthouse. In the meantime the lighthouse station continued to deteriorate.
Finally, in 2005, the Coast Guard granted a license/lease to the Chewonki Foundation, an organization that offers a broad array of environmental education, natural history, conservation, and wilderness programs. However, the Chewonki Foundation must have felt that the lighthouse was beyond their scope, and they relinquished their lease on the lighthouse. And now, after a lengthy process, the Coast Guard has finally leased the lighthouse to the Citizens of Squirrel Point.
Apparently one of the biggest hurdles was obtaining the necessary liability insurance, which has now been overcome. The future now seems brighter for Squirrel Point Lighthouse.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2013 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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