After waiting for the opportunity to preserve the iconic Gay Head Light on Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard, town officials in Aquinnah are now racing against the erosion that has threatened the lighthouse for decades.
"We feel we have a window of about two years before it's too late," Len Butler, chairman of the building subcommittee of Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee, told the Cape Cod Times.
The red-brick structure was built in 1856 and was manned until 1956. The beacon remains an active aid to navigation and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, lighthouses can be disposed of by transferring the property at no charge to a nonprofit organization or government entity or through public auction.
Earlier this month, the Coast Guard finally declared Gay Head surplus.
So far, four eligible non-profit and governmental groups, including the town, have expressed interest in the lighthouse and its two acres of land.
"If everything went 'bang, bang, bang,' we could technically get ownership from the government in five months. But it'll take longer than that," Aquinnah Town Administrator Adam Wilson said.