Wood Island Life Saving Station to be renovated
The Town of Kittery, Maine, has reached an agreement with the Wood Island Life Saving Station to save the historic building in Portsmouth Harbor. (Gretyl Macalaster)
The Kittery Town Council recently voted to allow the nonprofit Wood Island Life Saving Station Association to restore the exterior of the building with the town retaining ownership of the building and the island.
Both WILSSA and the town have expressed optimism about finally reaching an agreement.
In July, supporters of saving the station packed into Town Council chambers for a public hearing on two petitions signed by more than 850 people and submitted by WILSSA in support of the organization gaining ownership of the building and the island in order to restore the largely abandoned property.
Town Council Vice-chairman Jeffrey Pelletier said the plan was developed after lengthy discussion between the Wood Island Advisory Committee appointed by the town council and WILSSA.
"I think at the end of the day we felt that that was fair enough. If you are going to raise the money and complete the repair of the building, then that provides some expectation of being involved in its future," Pelletier said.Councilor Frank Dennett was the only one to vote against the agreement. He said he worried the town could be binding itself to the costs of asbestos abatement.
Sam Reid, founder of WILSSA, said following the July meeting the organization needed to decide whether to contest the decision to reject the petitions, or to attempt to restart the conversation with members of the town council.
"The compromise is that we are talking about the exterior of the building only at this time, and from our perspective that's a good thing because there have been discussions about this project that would have required us to raise all funds for the whole project before we could begin at all," Reid said.
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