The Falmouth Historical Society is interested in being the next stewards of Nobska Lighthouse.
The Coast Guard, the current owners of the beacon and property, is looking for an organization to lease Nobska. Earlier this month, the Coast Guard notified a handful of groups, including the historical society, asking interested parties to submit a letter of interest by August 5 if they want to be considered a candidate for the lease.
Mark A. Schmidt, executive director of the historical society, said he plans to respond. “It’s very much within our mission to ensure the iconic structure is preserved,” Mr. Schmidt said.
The outgrant license, or lease, would allow an organization to run a public program on the property for free, but would be required to pay for the maintenance on the structures. It would have to be open to the public and free of charge, but the selected organization can ask for donations from visitors. Included in the licensing is 2.11 acres of land with the keeper’s quarters, light tower, garage and parking area. It is on the Federal Register of Historic Places.
The Coast Guard has been shedding lighthouses for several years because of their high maintenance costs, and last fall it announced its intention to sell Nobska. Although the Coast Guard will continue to run the light and foghorn at the top of the structure, it says the site is no longer needed and wants someone else to take over stewardship of the buildings.
Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, the federal government must offer lighthouses free of charge to towns, nonprofit groups, or other public agencies. If a suitable owner is not found, the lighthouses are auctioned off to the public.
With only 60 days to reply to the Coast Guard, Mr. Schmidt said he is forming a solid plan, which includes a proposed use of the station, a rehabilitation and maintenance plan consistent with federal lighthouse preservation standards and a financial capability statement. The Coast Guard estimates it will cost the lessee $550,000 for roof and heating repairs.
In March, the Woods Hole Community Association held a public forum to gauge interest in preserving the light. The Nobska Lighthouse property was put on the Coast Guard’s list for consideration for divestiture, which signaled the government’s intent to sell the property. According to the notice, it may still sell the property after the five-year lease is up.