A postcard from the 1930s featuring Little Mark Island and Monument. The town of Harpswell is partnering with The Presumpscot Foundation to procure the island for preservation. (Image courtesy of Ford Reiche)
The Harpswell Select Board has approved a partnership agreement between the town and Freeport-based nonprofit The Presumpscot Foundation to jointly submit a bid to acquire Little Mark Island and its nearly 200-year-old tower in Casco Bay from the National Park Service.
The Select Board approved the partnership during its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Under the agreement, the foundation would be “the lead entity for ownership and stewardship responsibilities,” while Harpswell would “have the right to prior review and approval of all submissions.”
“In my estimation, I think it’s a very good agreement for the town,” Harpswell Town Administrator Kristi Eiane told the board prior to its approval.
The federal government no longer has a purpose for Little Mark Island and its 50-foot stone tower, built in 1827 as a maritime landmark, so it is offering to give the property to an eligible entity such as a municipality or nonprofit. Aspiring owners must submit an application by Dec. 6. Harpswell had planned to apply by itself before being approached by The Presumpscot Foundation.
Presumpscot’s founder, businessman and preservationist Ford Reiche, attended Wednesday’s meeting and told the board he has the experience to oversee the bid because his organization has previously acquired four other properties in the National Register of Historic Places. The foundation’s holdings include Harpswell’s Halfway Rock Light Station.
Reiche said the foundation has developed a plan for how to showcase the island and its unusual monument to interested members of the public, but that it will withhold that information until after the government’s deadline to receive bids has passed.
“It’s a competitive process, so there are other (interested parties),” he said. “But we’ve put a lot of thought into it. As the owner of Halfway Rock, I’ve got a pretty good sense of what’s practical and what isn’t.”
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