Pink House Supporters Face Its Demise

Tuesday April 02, 2024

THE ROAD TO PLUM ISLAND — The legions of Pink House supporters meet this week to discuss last-ditch efforts to keep the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (F&WS) from demolishing the beloved house.
The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 at PITA Hall, 8 Plum Island Trnpk., is billed by the Support the Pink House organization as one “You will not want to miss.”
“Regardless of the headlines, we are still working on negotiations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s been quite a ride! New things happen to shift the picture every day, and we are following every last option,” the meeting announcement reads.
“Public outcry has only grown and that’s why we keep using every minute, 7 days a week, working on the public’s behalf to fulfill the mission.”
The public has many questions and the Support the Pink House board will be there to answer questions, talk about next steps and how supporters can help.
After months of reviewing proposed land swaps and public comments, the F&WS offered two options. Alternative A, which was rejected by the agency, proposed to keep the Pink House as is under its management.
Alternative B, which was selected, proposes to remove the Pink House, restore the site and open it to public use.
The only way the F&WS would keep the Pink House standing was to have a “viable land exchange” that would have taken the house out of federal ownership. It required that the land traded would be “of higher ecological value and approximately equal monetary value (as required by law),” the agency’s decision states.
The estimated value was in excess of $400,000.
“The Service and its partners actively searched for a viable land exchange option for eight years, without success,” the decision states.
The Support the Pink House wrote on its website that it had proposed a variety of sites that might be traded for the Pink House. “In the past few months, we have brought them as many as 17 options that seemed to fit their criteria, several of which were seriously considered, but all ended up being rejected,” the STPH wrote.
The supporters wrote that it is “inconceivable that a solution has not been accepted by FWS.”
It has had plenty of time and plenty of options, they wrote. “We’re mystified as to why they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, allow one to work.”
The federal criteria kept becoming more stringent, eventually making the land trade solution impossible by their own creation.
The F&WS, which said it has no use for the Pink House, maintained that the property is not a good fit for a land exchange and to keep it is neither fiscally nor environmentally responsible.
The plan is to remove the house and restore the habitat, add benches and interpretative signage. It does not plan to build an observation platform, as once thought.
After a year of monitoring the public’s use of the site, the F&WS may decide to build the proposed observation platform, or if the public has caused damage to the habitat, it may close it.
The F&WS is also assessing the feasibility of putting the Pink House up for auction to a bidder, who would have 90 days to remove and relocate it.
Jeff Ackley, the STPH treasurer, said last week that moving the Pink House would destroy the visual beauty of the house that has appealed to thousands of photographers and artists through the years.
The F&WS wrote: “We acknowledge and accept that the future viability of the Pink House within salt marsh that already floods routinely – and is expected to do so with greater frequency and intensity – is increasingly dire.”
Maintaining the house, it wrote, would be contrary to the F&WS’ primary mission to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats, while managing for climate change.

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