A detailed plan for moving the Gay Head Light has been approved by the Aquinnah conservation commission and planning board, and extensive landscaping plans and other elements of the project are quickly taking shape.

International Chimney Corporation, along with civil engineer George Sourati, has developed plans to relocate the historic lighthouse about 190 feet from eroding cliffs. If all goes well, excavation of the site will begin as soon as the ground thaws, with the move completed by Memorial Day.

“It’s actually a fairly level excavation,” said lighthouse advisory committee member Len Butler, who presented an update to the Aquinnah selectmen on Wednesday. A path will be dug to the new location, which is a few feet lower in elevation, but will be raised to accommodate the difference. An original granite foundation will be re-exposed, adding about a foot to the height of the lighthouse.

Archaeological surveys of the area last year revealed nothing of historic interest, except for the foundation of the former light keeper’s quarters, which was not a surprise. Public Archaeology Lab, which did the surveys, plans to do additional testing and documentation of the foundation this spring to comply with federal regulations.

Other preliminary work will include removing lead-contaminated soil that was identified by the company Tetra Tech two years ago as part of a study for the U.S. Coast Guard. The same company will be hired as a consultant in the relocation, since they are familiar with the site.

Mr. Butler said the lead was left over from paint used in the former light keeper’s quarters, and was not a health hazard. “The contamination levels are barely twice the EPA residential limit and actually below the commercial limit,” he said. The Coast Guard is requiring that the soil be removed during the relocation, but afterwards it will be returned to the ground. Removing the soil permanently was estimated to cost $600,000.

Ownership of the lighthouse is being transferred from the Coast Guard to the town, a complicated process involving the U.S. General Services Administration, the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and several other groups.

Town administrator Adam Wilson said Wednesday that a memorandum of understanding drafted by the General Services Administration “is coming to fruition,” with signatures due by Feb. 11. Shortly after the signatures are collected, the town will be presented with the deed to the lighthouse.

“Everybody gets it that we are under the gun here,” Mr. Butler said of the need to protect the lighthouse from the eroding cliffs. “Almost everybody has done their best to accelerate this process, from the secretary of the interior right on down.”

The Coast Guard is requiring the installation of a temporary beacon prior to the move so mariners won’t have to change their charts. At the Coast Guard’s expense, a metal tower with a flashing LED light will be installed near the lookout past the shops at Aquinnah Circle. The Gay Head Light will then be extinguished for the duration of the move.

An extensive landscaping and site restoration plan by Laurel Wilkinson includes harvesting all the native grasses, shrubs and other plants and using them to replant the new site. The entire area will become a public park, with a split-rail fence along the cliffs and a hedge of rosa rugosa to discourage people from climbing over the fence.

Mr. Butler said the conservation commission is on board with the landscape and restoration plans, but has yet to issue an order of conditions. He said the planning board was also on board but was concerned about the issue of public access. The planning board will continue discussing the plans at its next meeting.

“The main concern is to try to keep people off the road” at Aquinnah Circle, Mr. Butler said. “Right now it’s a free for all up there. People walk down the middle of the road, you’ve got buses coming. It’s fortunate nobody has been hit yet.”

“Chances are we are going to have the most visitors ever this summer,” he added. “Once this thing is moved everybody is going to want to come and see it. So we really need to plan for it.”

At the request of the lighthouse advisory committee, the selectmen agreed Wednesday to begin forming a more permanent lighthouse advisory board to oversee operations, maintenance and other issues related to the lighthouse. Mr. Butler, who volunteered to serve on the board, pointed out that a multi-year restoration plan for the lighthouse would begin after the move. The board will be a subcommittee of the town Historic Building Committee and will report to the selectmen.