As the result of a recent dispute, the City of North Wildwood, New Jersey has changed the locks on the doors of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, thereby locking out the Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse.
Last year, the local squabble between the Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and the City exploded on social media, and the local press, with lots of claims and counter-claims. One was the loss of a $17,000 grant that everyone thought was finalized. Another was when a city truck reportedly parked on $100,000 worth of engraved bricks, causing them to sink into the ground. Also, reportedly, the City wants to remove trees from around the lighthouse and install new landscape to the grounds.
In a time when people in many parts of the nation are trying to rebuild their lives as a result of wild-fires, hurricanes, severe storms, and where North Korea is a threat to world peace and terrorism looms, it’s hard to believe that the Mayor and other public officials of the City of North Wildwood and the Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse couldn’t sit down at a table and work out their differences and come to a compromise.
The City said after they notified the Friends that their agreement would expire on December 31, 2017, and that the agreement would not be renewed, they were afraid that the Friends group would loot the lighthouse of artifacts, so they changed the locks. Considering that it was the members of the Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse who were primarily responsible for restoring the lighthouse and caring for it, that claim sounds somewhat absurd.
Almost since the inception of this magazine, we have always stated that local governments should never be allowed to own a lighthouse – primarily because politics can cause way more harm than good to any historic structure.
That being said, perhaps the ownership of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse should be turned over to a newly formed nonprofit that would be operated by a Board of Directors comprised of some of the current Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, a representative of the City of North Wildwood, and a representative of the Greater North Wildwood Chamber of Commerce. Obviously they all, in their own way, have the best interest of the lighthouse at heart. And to protect the integrity of the nonprofit, By-Laws could be written that would protect the integrity of the Board of Directors with term limits for all of them, and with elections for the Board of Directors to be held on an annual basis.
I have been involved in the lighthouse preservation movement in this nation longer than most, and, for what it’s worth, that’s my suggestion.
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This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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