A Maine-based organization is scrambling to outbid two out-of-state groups for ownership of Ram Island Ledge Light Station off Cape Elizabeth.

Robert Muller, an information technology consultant from Brunswick, is leading the effort to raise at least $20,000 by Thursday – the federal government’s deadline for final bids.

Muller is competing against bidders from New York City and Connecticut for ownership of the 105-year-old lighthouse, which was established to mark the hazardous submerged shoals near the entrance to Portland Harbor.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, according to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

Muller said he wants to create a community of owners, who would contribute $49 each to receive a Keeper of the Lighthouse Membership Deed. The deed would entitle each owner to benefits such as retail discounts. Muller estimates he will need 1,000 to 2,000 contributors to outbid his opponents.

Joe Calto of New York City has bid $30,000; Muller has bid $15,000; and Jane and Scott Lucas of Weston, Conn., have bid $10,000.

Although Thursday is the deadline for bids, the online auction could continue beyond the deadline if competitors keep outbidding each other.

“We don’t know how high the bidding is going to go,” Muller said. “It’s a chess game.”

Muller was among eight prospective bidders who were given a tour of the offshore lighthouse last week by the Coast Guard.

Because of rough seas, they never set foot on the rock outcropping where the lighthouse stands. But the tour generated enough interest to draw bids from the three parties, according to the U.S. General Services Administration website. The administration is overseeing the online auction.

The bids prompted Muller to form a social network – “The Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community” – to ensure that the lighthouse remains locally owned. Muller would be the group’s executive director.

Because access to Ram Island Ledge Light Station is restricted – boats can land only in calm seas – Muller has a vision that he hopes will make it accessible worldwide. “Our goal is to virtualize it so that it will be on everyone’s desktop,” he said.

His plan calls for installing a webcam at the lighthouse to let people see the waves, hear the sounds of the ocean, the foghorn and seabirds, and view the weather conditions.

“We hope to crowd-source ideas, especially how we want to sensorize the lighthouse with web, audio, weather and other high-tech equipment so people can actually experience the lighthouse through the Internet,” Muller said.

People who contribute to the campaign would be given a say in how the lighthouse is operated, he said.

The Coast Guard will continue to operate the lighthouse’s navigational equipment, but the new owners would be responsible for upkeep of the 77-foot granite tower and an attached pier.

“I don’t want to turn it into a wine bar or a bed-and-breakfast,” Muller said. “I just want to preserve it.”

For more information or to find out how to contribute to the campaign, go to www.ramislandlighthouse.com.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]