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“With volunteer projects, things always move slower.I thought we weren’t making much headway, and my main goal was to really see that it got finished.” The professional team worked to address construction details that did not comply with National Park Service standards for historical preservation, and to obtain necessary permits from federal, state and local entities.
But some on Southport are also concerned about a restoration project they believe has changed course over its 10-year journey.“What was originally a great project to restore the lighthouse we all adored morphed into a B&B for hedge-fund types,” said Meredith Knowlton, whose house at Newagen, which was once her grandparents, offers a view of the Cuckolds from the front porch.From the early days of the restoration project, Knowlton and other Southport Islanders have lobbied for a project that restored only the fog signal, not the keeper’s house, and that did not include overnight guests.“We will be hosting historic tours by appointment and private launch,” Reingold said. We want people to understand the Cuckolds is a place that is available and can be used and booked as is for meetings, retreats, etc.” To some, the Cuckolds’ seclusion and ruggedness is an attraction, to others a concern — and a potential flaw in the idea of routinely renting rooms on the island.“The island is an exquisite place in any weather,” Reingold said.Reingold said education and public access remain central to the Cuckolds’ mission.
Halda said the Park Service will ensure that public access and educational programming occurs.
The effort to restore the Cuckolds began in 2004, when the former light station at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and made available to interested parties.
Southport summer residents Janet Reingold and Philip Yasinski initiated the idea to obtain and restore the iconic light station, and over the life of the project, they have gathered together hundreds of avid volunteers and supporters.
Coulombe said attracting “hedge-fund types” is exactly what the proposal seeks, and that it is a part of his vision for putting the Boothbay region on the map.
“Having the Cuckolds as a B&B brings a lot of attention to the area and a lot of interest from PFAs (people from away) that want to have a lighthouse experience first-hand,” Coulombe said.
The Cuckolds Council’s original 542-page application to the National Park Service included overnight stays as a source of income to provide financial stability.