Aquinnah voters will decide in February whether the town should begin steps to take ownership of the historic Gay Head Light.
The town selectmen said at a meeting last week they would schedule a special town meeting for the first week of February.
“We should have permission from the town to spend time on this, particularly if it comes down to acquiring it,” selectman Jim Newman said.
The lighthouse will need to be re-located in the next two years due to erosion at the Gay Head Cliffs. The tower is expected to be designated as surplus property by the U.S. Coast Guard sometime next year, the first step in the process of transferring ownership to another entity. If the town wants to take ownership of the light it will need to write an application. A town advisory committee has been appointed to begin the process of developing a plan for ownership and relocation of the light.
The first meeting of the committee is Jan. 2.
Town administrator Adam Wilson said time could run short if the lighthouse comes up for sale before the annual town meeting in May.
“We’re putting the question to the voters, do you want us to do this? Do you want us to work on this project to move the lighthouse, knowing it could cost a substantial sum of money? ” Mr. Wilson said. “By the annual you may have things already in play, like the transfer of ownership.”
The selectmen also voted to appoint Jim Miller as the town representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Mr. Miller, an environmental coordinator for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) who lives in Edgartown, ran for an elected seat on the commission in November and lost. Mr. Newman said the commission’s charter does not bar the selectmen from appointing a person outside the town as their representative.
“I think he will represent the town of Aquinnah really well,” Mr. Newman said. The vote was unanimous.