A view of the living quarters, museum, gift shop and lighthouse on Seguin Island in this 2019 file photo. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

The nonprofit that owns Seguin Island said it won’t close the island to the private boat traffic this summer but will restrict access to the lighthouse, museum and gift shop to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The second-oldest lighthouse in Maine, Seguin Island Light was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1985. The island is owned by Friends of Seguin Island Light Station, which maintains and preserves the island and light station.

There will still be a lighthouse keeper on the island this summer, according to Cyndy Carney, the executive director of the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station, to maintain the grounds and trails for visitors and be there in case of emergencies.

“It’s a very important job,” she said.

There are six boat moorings in the cove where private boats can moor and visit the island. Carney said visitors can walk the trails and practice social distancing on the 64-acre island. The island is closed to any group gatherings. The Friends of Seguin Island Light Station also aren’t planning on having ferry service to the island, though a formal decision is expected to be made at the end of the month. Carney said as of now, the Friends plan to open the island June 1.

Gov. Janet Mills unveiled plans last week to gradually restart Maine’s economy, with limited expansion of businesses including outdoor recreation this month and allowing gatherings to increase from 10 to 50 in June.

“We are going to probably be stricter than the guidance,” Carney said. “We have to keep our keepers safe and we want our visitors to be safe, and we would err on the side of caution.”

The decision to keep the gift shop closed and not allow overnight stays in the guest bedrooms above the museum this summer is expected to cost the organization upwards of $12,000 Carney said. The island usually draws on average 3,000 guests each summer.

“Far fewer visitors (means) far fewer donations,” she said.

In addition to a pandemic to plan around, the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station is still working to resolve an unanticipated challenge that delayed the opening of the island last spring.

In April 2019, the Coast Guard cut power to Seguin after the 2.5-mile underwater cable that supplied electricity to the island since the 1950s was damaged. The Friends of Seguin Island Light Station raised $5,500 for a generator installed last May.

Carney said the Friends have purchased a $100,000 solar power system that will be installed in a few weeks that will generate enough power to run everything in the main building.

However, the group is short $30,000 to pay for the labor to install the system. The funding gap comes after the Friends lost a major donor who experienced financial losses in the stock market due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carney said. Materials have already been purchased and the contract signed with the solar provider before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

“I don’t think we can back down,” she said.

The island also has other repair projects totaling more than $400,000 that Carney expects will be delayed.

To help address the anticipated revenue loss, Carney is working to find alternative fundraisers such as through the crowdfunding platform Go Fund Me.

“I panic every minute of every day,” Carney said, about the financial implications of the pandemic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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