Offshore wind funding possible for Gay Head Lighthouse repairs

The Gay Head Light on the Cliffs. —MV Times

The historic Gay Head Lighthouse may be getting assistance from offshore wind projects. 

Gay Head Lighthouse keeper Chris Manning ran down a list of repairs and projects that will be needed for the lighthouse during the Aquinnah select board meeting on Tuesday. “Some of those are big-ticket items that we’re really kind of working with these wind farm projects for funding,” he said. “The lantern room restoration; the lighthouse restoration as a whole.” 

Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison told The Times offshore wind farms are required by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to mitigate impact from their projects. The two projects Manning named to potentially provide funding were South Fork Wind, for the big-ticket items, and Revolution Wind for smaller repairs. Both are offshore wind projects planned to be constructed in waters southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. When BOEM came to Martha’s Vineyard in October for a public hearing on Revolution Wind’s draft environmental impact statement, several Aquinnah residents questioned the project’s benefits to the Island, and expressed concern over the possible harm that the project could inflict, particularly in the context of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head’s culture.

There are also a series of smaller maintenance issues that need to be addressed for the lighthouse, such as moving the walkway fence to the lighthouse because of erosion and electrical work. 

While “nothing’s been signed or contracted yet,” Manning said an annual stipend from Revolution Wind for these smaller repairs is a possibility. 

“I know with a lot of the projects right now, with the town being a little tight for cash, we’re trying to hold off what we can until that major funding for some of the big projects,” Manning said. 

While the town may also get some funding from the offshore wind projects, the lighthouse will be “having a revenue source from those projects that are being put in,” according to Manning. He said some of the funding is in onetime payments, but negotiations are underway for “smaller … annual payouts throughout the life of that [Revolution Wind] project.”

Board chair Juli Vanderhoop said creating a budget or a strategic plan for more long-term repairs would be beneficial. Manning said the “steady flow of income,” if the offshore wind farm projects are built, would help with “ongoing maintenance costs that we come up with throughout the year.” He said it could help install a new door, and make repairs to the third-deck window plaster that was broken off by a tourist last summer.

Repairs or changes to the lighthouse will also need to receive input from the Gay Head Lighthouse advisory board and Aquinnah’s historic commission.