In what is being hailed as a “historic collaboration,” The Block Island Historical Society (BIHS) and the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation (SELF) will receive a total of $2.5 million from Deepwater Wind in what is being described in a press release as an effort to “strengthen historic preservation and heritage tourism efforts on Block Island.” The $2.5 million will be split evenly between the two groups.
The funds were provided under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and were issued under a memorandum of agreement between the Army Corps of Engineers, The R.I. State Historic Preservation Office, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Deepwater Wind.
After an inquiry from The Block Island Times this morning about an agreement between Deepwater and the two organizations that totaled $2.5 million, the press release was issued in late afternoon.
The release states that the funds were being issued in part because “The National Historic Preservation Act requires the federal government to take into account adverse impacts on historic resources when issuing federal permits, such as the permits Deepwater Wind received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
Although the press release did not specifically mention the amount of the agreement, a separate memo from Deepwater’s public relations firm detailed how the funds would be divided:
Southeast Light Foundation ($550,000 total)
- $150,000 for interpretative exhibit on the history of marine travel near Block Island
- $200,000 for restoration of the lighthouse
- $200,000 donation for capital and organizational purposes, paid over 20 years
Block Island Historical Society ($30,000 total)
- $30,000 for interpretative video on the historic cultural landscape of Block Island
Additional corporate contributions agreed to by Deepwater Wind
SELF – $700,000 donation for capital improvements, educational programming, and other organizational purposes
BIHS – $1,220,000 donation for capital improvements, educational programming, and other organizational purposes
$1,250,000 for SELF and $1,250,000 for BIHS.
According to the release, “The National Historic Preservation Act requires the federal government to take into account adverse impacts on historic resources when issuing federal permits, such as the permits Deepwater Wind received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, federal law requires heightened scrutiny of impacts to National Historic Landmarks, such as the Southeast Lighthouse.”
Also according to the release, “Deepwater Wind’s contribution will support the Block Island Historical Society and the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation, which will collaborate to advance programming that benefits the entire island and its visitors. The majority of the funds will become available at the conclusion of 2016, when the Block Island Wind Farm is expected to commence operation.
Block Island Historical Society President Bob Champagne-Willis is quoted in the release as saying, “By celebrating our community’s centuries of history, we enrich the lives of all who live and visit here. In accepting this generous investment from Deepwater Wind, we will be further enabled to honor the contributions of the Native Americans, fishermen, farmers, and Block Islanders who have created this unique and culturally rich Island home.”
“Block Island has long been a leader in wind power, dating from the 19th century when windmills dotted the Island’s landscape to the near future when the Block Island Wind Farm will power the island with clean energy,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski in the press release. “We’re proud to support protecting and enhancing historical resources that are so integral to the island’s tourism sector and economy.”
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