Federal government to transfer Point No Point lighthouse

The Point No Point lighthouse could be transferred to a local agency. - Tad Sooter/Staff Photo
The Point No Point lighthouse could be transferred to a local agency.
— image credit: Tad Sooter/Staff Photo

HANSVILLE – The federal government wants to unload the Point No Point lighthouse property and Kitsap County is a likely suitor.

According to a notice of availability published by the federal Real Property Utilization and Disposal office Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard has declared the property surplus. It will be transferred at no cost to another government agency or nonprofit group to be used for recreational and educational activities.

The Hansville property includes the lighthouse structure, a duplex and several outbuildings on 8.81 acres.

Kitsap County maintains the property as a park, under a longstanding agreement with the Coast Guard. The nonprofit U.S. Lighthouse Society uses the facility for its national headquarters and archives. The county manages the duplex as a vacation rental.

The Coast Guard operates a navigation light and radar station on the property and will retain access to the equipment after the property changes hands.

The transfer is being handled under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The law, passed in 2000, allows the government to transfer lighthouses to groups that are able to preserve them and keep the open to the public.

Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer said the county’s known for several years the Coast Guard might surplus the lighthouse and plans to pursue the property.

“The county is extremely interested in acquiring the property,” Bauer said. “So we’re very excited this is moving forward.”

The lighthouse property is a natural extension of the existing county park. The county owns about 60 acres adjacent to the lighthouse, including a large wetland.

The county has already made some improvements to the lighthouse grounds. Bauer said the county would be more willing to spend money on the buildings if it owned the property.

“We’ll be able to make a number of investments and really spruce it up,” Bauer said.

Real Property Utilization and Disposal regional spokesman Ross Buffington said the U.S. Department of the Interior is accepting letters of interest until Dec. 15 and a 90-day application period will follow.

If no “acceptable steward” is found, the lighthouse could be sold by competitive bid, according to the notice.

The Point No Point lighthouse, established in 1879, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Any entity that takes over the property will have to follow strict preservation guidelines and maintain public access.

Point No Point would not be the first Washington lighthouse to be transferred under the Lighthouse Preservation Act.

Buffington said the Lime Kiln lighthouse, a popular whale watching destination on San Juan Island, was handed over to Washington State Parks in the 1980s. In 2004, West Point lighthouse on Elliott Bay was transferred to the City of Seattle. The Grays Harbor lighthouse was given to the Westport-South Beach Historical Society, also in 2004.

Lighthouse Society Executive Director Jeff Gales said the Lighthouse Preservation Act, passed in 2000, has helped keep lighthouses from falling into disrepair or being shuttered from the public. His group, among others, pushed for the passage of the bill.

“Before the Lighthouse Preservation Act, it wasn’t a good process,” Gales said. “There wasn’t a passion for preservation.”

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