Group is lone bidder for lighthouse

National society joins Annapolis, area museum

August 06, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Word that Thomas Point Lighthouse - one of the most recognizable symbols of the Chesapeake Bay - would be up for grabs this summer generated interest from nearly a dozen groups, including one as far away as Maine.

But just one application for the historic iron-framed lighthouse arrived Monday at the National Park Service building in Washington, hand-delivered by the vice president of the U.S. Lighthouse Society on behalf of that group and its Annapolis partners.

"This seems like it will be an absolutely wonderful consortium," said Dan Smith of the park service. The San Francisco-based lighthouse society, which has a chapter for the Delmarva region, has formed a partnership with the city and the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

A park service committee will review the 250-page application and make a recommendation to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. Smith said a decision on whether the Annapolis coalition can take over Thomas Point should come by Oct. 1. The city estimates that maintenance will cost between $5,000 and $10,000 a year.

Monday also was the due date for groups vying for a second Maryland lighthouse: Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Light in Baltimore County. Two Virginia nonprofit organizations, Veterans First and Historical Place Preservation, are in the running, according to Jennifer Perunko, a contractor who coordinates the lighthouse transfer program for the park service.

These are the first two Maryland lighthouses to be made available through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, which aims to turn over up to 300 Coast Guard-owned lighthouses to new owners in the next decade.

Smith, special assistant to the director of the National Park Service, said the coalition that applied for Thomas Point should serve as a model for others interested in lighthouses.

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