The Gay Head Light has a moving company.
The Aquinnah selectmen voted this week to hire International Chimney to relocate the lighthouse, which has been much in the news due to its precarious position near a rapidly eroding cliff and an ongoing fundraising and organizational effort to move it.
The Buffalo, N.Y., company was the sole responder to a request for proposals, and came in with a bid between $1.2 million and $1.4 million. The price will depend on which site is selected for the move, lighthouse building committee chairman Lenny Butler told the selectmen at their meeting Tuesday.
The contract is contingent on the town obtaining ownership of the lighthouse, which is expected sometime this summer. The federal General Services Administration is currently reviewing the town’s application for ownership and has told the town it is the only viable applicant.
The lighthouse stands 46 feet from the edge of the famous Clay Cliffs. International Chimney said in a preliminary review that it needs at least 30 feet around the lighthouse in order to safely move the brick tower which dates to the 1800s.
International Chimney is a familiar name on Chappaquiddick, where the company moved the Schifter home last summer in a project that attracted widespread attention. The company has relocated several lighthouses in other places in the country, including the Sankaty Head Light on Nantucket, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina and the Nauset Light in Eastham.
A town committee that is organizing the project has estimated $3 million will be needed. The International Chimney bid is strictly for moving the light, Mr. Butler said; landscaping, excavation of the old foundation and restoration are not included. The company has agreed to do pre-engineering studies, plan and execute the move depending on the final site, Mr. Butler said.
Other Island towns will contribute funds to the project; last week voters in Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and West Tisbury agreed to devote Community Preservation Act money to help pay for moving the iconic light.
The move is slated for late this year. Mr. Butler said the moving company will stage their equipment on town property near the light.
“We’re trying to minimize the disturbance unless we absolutely have to in the Circle,” he said.
The selectmen thanked Mr. Butler and he thanked them.
“Thank you for this milestone and getting this accomplished,” Mr. Butler said.
In other business Tuesday, selectmen approved an annual taxi license with additional vehicle permit for Aquinnah Taxi, the only cab company in Aquinnah. The company currently has four vehicles on the road, but owner Samantha Church said an additional cab would be helpful for servicing events.
“Right now we have five to 10 events in Aquinnah at private homes or getting married at the cliffs or the Outermost Inn,” she said. “Last year we hired out for the remainder of the vehicles. It’s not make or break but it would be helpful to have another permit.”
Ms. Church said the additional vehicle would only be used for weekend events.
The request was approved unanimously.
The selectmen also approved the final warrant and budget for the annual town meeting May 13. The $3.9 million operating budget is up 1.5 per cent or $57,000 over last year. As a resuly, all spending articles will be paid from free cash rather than taxation. The town has a total of $332,000 in free cash, the selectmen reported.