October 21, 2014
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A light on Warwick

Warwick already has the keys to one lighthouse and now, according to a story by Beacon reporter Kim Kalunian, it could be in the position to getting a second set of keys.

The city assumed title to Conimicut Light in 2004, although the Coast Guard continues to maintain the beacon and ensure its role to warn mariners of Conimicut shoal and to define the southern side of the Providence River channel.

Now the Coast Guard is contemplating the transfer of Warwick Light at the tip of Warwick Neck. No course of action has been set at this time, although the light keeper’s house, which has been traditionally occupied by a member of the Coast Guard, is currently vacant.

Warwick Light is an iconic image for the city and, apart from being featured on the flag of this paper, is frequently featured in city brochures and advertisements. Of the city’s two lighthouses, it is the most accessible – you needn’t board a boat to get there – and for that reason offers greater potential for events and use.

We are sure the city has taken note of the Beacon story and is following up with the proper authorities. The Coast Guard would not sell the property, according to the story, but entertain its transfer to a non-profit agency, such as a historical society or preservation group as has been done with Rose Island Light off Newport.

The Rose Island Light has become a desired destination for families and individuals looking to experience a night, or longer, at a lighthouse. The organization that assumed responsibility for the light rents out the facility and the demand is reportedly so great that there is a yearlong waiting list. Funds raised by the rental pay for upkeep of the property and ensures that it is truly a shining beacon for Newport.

The same can’t be said for Conimicut Light. Nothing has happened since the light was turned over to the city. It is a shabby sentinel with grass and weeds growing on its merger roof. Its dock is in need of repair and its spark plug form [it is known as the spark plug-type of lighthouse popular in the early 1900s] is a dirty white.

While it seems remote, especially given the daunting work it would need, we wonder if a night in the Conimicut Light might likewise have people willing to pay good money. There’s no question it would offer more adventure than Warwick Light.

Regardless, both lights offer an opportunity to shine a beacon on Warwick. Let’s do that.


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