Letters to the Editor, July 2

Jul 02, 2017

No offense, Bristol Parks & Rec

The town of Bristol manages some of the most impressive coastline along the shores of Maine. It has been blessed with a beautiful sandy beach, fun boat launch sites and the quintessential rocky coast of Maine. A long time ago, the town realized the beauty and value of these places and how much the community loved them, so it created a Parks and Recreation Department to be the primary stewards of these landmarks. It has done an exemplary job in landscaping the grounds, maintaining the buildings and creating new facilities for recreation, learning and art throughout its many parks.

My favorite of them is the Pemaquid Lighthouse Park, and I am a volunteer docent there every week throughout the season. We are proud to share the history, legends and lore of lighthouses with the visitors in such a well-maintained park.

The confusing part is that the tower is still owned by the Coast Guard, leased to the American Lighthouse Foundation and cared for by the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The Coast Guard changes the bulbs when they burn out, and caulks the windows. All the rest of the repair, maintenance and restoration is up to ALF and FPPL. Our only source of regular income is the donations we receive from visitors who climb the tower. Since the year 2000, we have spent more than $212,000 on major renovations and between $500 and $12,000 in normal painting and repairs each year. Luckily, some grants have been provided to match our funds for the costlier projects. However, we have observed a decline in our donations since 2007, when we did the exterior renovation that was so obvious to passers-by. Visitors don’t realize all the expenses involved in maintaining an older structure located in such an exposed and harsh environment.

This year, we started hanging another sign on the fence outside the tower in addition to the standard safety rules for climbing the stairs to the top. It states that no portion of the park’s entrance fee is received by the lighthouse, and therefore we ask for voluntary donations to support this structure. Some of the paid staff at the park have taken offense at this sign. There was never any intention of putting down the town of Bristol Parks and Rec Department. They work hard to care for these places that we all love so passionately.

FPPL is grateful to have such beautiful surroundings and facilities that attract more people to the park every year. We offer a benefit to the town, as well, by having the lighthouse open for tours from Memorial Day until Columbus Day. We would like to have our relationship viewed as a win-win situation for FPPL and the town. Forty volunteers give hours and hours of their time to open the lighthouse all season. We are there to make the visit safe and educational for all who attend. So please do not take offense at our plea for public support; it is a benefit to the town to have this landmark cared for without the use of tax dollars.

Caren Clark

FPPL Treasurer

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