By now most everyone knows the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is evaluating demolishing the beloved and iconic Pink House. Stopping this will likely involve a rather complicated land swap where land of a high ecological value (i.e. marshland) is exchanged for the Pink House and the 1 acre it sits on.
The owner of the land being swapped will NOT have to own the Pink House as the Support The Pink House nonprofit (STPH) has a restoration partner who will reimburse the land owner and then restore the Pink House with his own funds. This land swap will best meet the mission of the FWS, and will certainly be in the best interest of the community for the following reasons - a few of which you might not have thought of. Did I forget any?
1. Finding land for the swap should be easy because a land donation is not required.
2. There will be no concern about what will become of the Pink House and the land it sits on because the STPH’s restoration partner has agreed to place the Preservation Restriction agreed to by FWS, STPH, and the town of Newbury on the Pink House deed. He will then restore the house in compliance with this PR. (The plans and drawings are beautiful!)
3. The swap will mean the FWS will no longer be liable for the Pink House but they will still maintain access to and be able to preserve over 8 acres of ecologically valuable land they acquired when they purchased the house.
4. For the FWS the swap is the best use of undesirable, low ecological valued land that is also an asset worth close to $500,000 (the house along with the 1 acre it sits on has an assessed value of $425,000 plus the savings associated with forgoing demolition expenses and expenses for building a parking lot and viewing platform).
5. The swap will enable the Pink House, a nearly 100-year-old, beloved, and iconic landmark to be restored and preserved. A landmark that greatly benefits the community culturally and economically by attracting photographers, artists, craftspeople, tourists, and others to the area.
6. The swap will prevent the FWS from wasting the equivalent of $500,000 on a parking lot and viewing platform that is essentially duplicated just yards down the road at Greenbelt’s viewing location.
7. The swap will enable the FWS to build a substantial amount of much-needed goodwill within the local community and help it end its reputation as a bad neighbor.
8. For the town of Newbury, the swap will result in new tax revenue from the addition of a single-family home back onto the town's tax rolls.
It is with these benefits in mind that the Fish and Wildlife Service must:
1. Permanently halt plans and activities associated with demolishing the Pink House.
2. Recommit efforts to transparently and aggressively search for suitable land for a land swap and not give up until the swap is successful.
3. Set aside resources and work with the STPH group and the community to maintain the Pink House, an unwanted, yet extremely valuable asset, from further damage until a land swap can be completed.
NOTE: The PRNWR has stated their preferred solution to this situation is a land swap and not taking down the house. The issue is more about the amount to time and resources they are willing to put in to maintain the house and searching for land. We would all like to have the swap happen sooner rather than later. If you have or know of anyone who might have land to swap please email the STPH at info@SupportThePinkHouse.com
Written by Jeff Ackley, Board Member, Pink House Treasurer, Board member of EcoEnlighten.com
First published on 12/24, we are reposting to keep at the top of our reading list for visitors new to the website.
Happy 2024 Pink House Supporters!! We hope you had a great holiday.
Did you know that taking action is as important now as it was during the 30 day period in November! Why? Because a solution needs to be found, or FWS will proceed with their demolition plans, after they complete their review, which according to the Daily News, will likely be completed in February.
Let's join together and devote a bit of every day to making more happen!
To help, we're kicking off our TWELVE DAYS of ACTION series! We'll post something you can do each day to help on our social media. Doesn't have to be in any order, but if each of the thousands of people who want to see The Pink House restored did one thing a day in the next time-sensitive 12 days, together we will send a very clear message that this is important enough for FWS and our elected officials to renew their commitment to get to a solution!
So check out our Social Media starting on January 3, for each day's ACTION step! on Facebook: Save the Pink House Discussion Group and Support the Pink House Inc. @Supporthepinkhouse on IG. @SupportthePinkH on Twitter/X.
Not on social media? Or want to do a bunch of things on a day off? Great! simply click HERE and HERE to find lists of then many ways you can help. There's something for everyone! We provided all the info we could to make it easy for you!
THANK YOU for being the incredible, passionate, vocal community you are who are willing to stand up and speak out for history, heritage, the arts, commerce and what you value! Together we CAN make a difference and KEEP HOPE ALIVE!
The Pink House will meet its 100th birthday in a year - 2025. Our goal now is to see it lovingly restored, and once again utilized, cared for, smoke curling out of the chimney, twinkle lights around holiday time, and no longer under threat, to inspire and welcome generations to come.
We have completed all the steps FWS asked of us to prepare the house and its acre to trade... using your, and our own, funds. 40 professionals donated their time and talents probono to help it happen, because they believe in the project that much. All that's needed is for FWS to find and approve land. There's been a local Restoration Partner waiting to pay someone for their land, then trade that for The Pink House in order to restore it according to our perpetual preservation restriction, which would go on the deed as it leaves FWS hands. That PR will deem The Pink House always remain as it is - no development or demo possible!
While we the people are now doing our best to spread FWS's land criteria, talking to local select boards, town planners, smaller land trusts, scouring maps, calling individuals... This really is the job of the FWS Realty department! In fact, FWS Realty called us in Sept 2020, arranged by Congressman Moulton's office, to say THEY would look for and vet the land because "that is what we do all day, and because this trade would be so beneficial to our mission."
We have written to the Realty chiefs who proposed this to us, asking them to resume their search since they are now open again for a short time to fulfill their part of the agreement we made. That would make perfect sense, as nothing about the benefits they extolled have changed. We keep asking for Congressman Moulton to please come back to the table to help, and so far have heard nothing - PLEASE KEEP WRITING and calling Congressman Moulton to ask him to come back You can leave a message at his DC office at (202) 225-8020.
We listed ways you could help on a prior article on December 13. That was geared toward calling and writing elected officials, and getting the word out about land. Those are still the current TOP TWO ways you can help. Repeated calls to elected officials asking them to come back to the table and help us all, working with Support The Pink House, is very important!
But there are also many other ways to help. Pick one, pick three, do a little each day! Now is the time, as the threat of demolition is still on the table for Mid-Feb unless something changes. Your voice already produced changes - FWS is now considering land swap options - so you are powerful!
Joining together we can make the difference! Thank you for your efforts!
WRITE TO FISH and WILDLIFE
The 30 day comment period may be over, but FWS needs know this is so meaningful to so many, that they should delay demolition until land is found. Tell them.
Let them know that 30 days and through the major holidays of the year is not fair time to spread the word, for people to hear about it, understand the criteria, and come forth with land options.
Tell FWS to promote the land criteria more on their own social media. They put up only ONE dedicated post with clear criteria on December 1st. It is buried by new posts, and no one new is seeing it.
Tell them you are committed and will NOT forget. Tell them if they truly want to win the hearts of this area they have bought up and changed so much, they need to do the right thing here.
Matt Hillman, Parker River Wildlife Refuge Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Porter, US FWS Realty Chief, Hadley MA email@example.com
(Yes, the FWS has a Realty Division, staffed by several people, whose salary your tax dollars pay, whose job is to look for land to obtain).
SEND IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Your letter can keep the conversation going! And that is very valuable.
FILL OUT THE VOLUNTEER SECTION ON OUR WEBSITE CONTACT PAGE
Scroll down to let us know your interests and skills. We need everything from admin, data entry, letter writing, and accounting to chairing an event or being on a committee to an extra pair of hands.
FOLLOW US ON:
FACEBOOK: (we have 2 pages)
SHARE OUR POSTS, pls!
From our social media but especially the articles (like this one) in our News section on our website. Attach them to your social media posts, DM, text and email them to friends and family, people in high places, lawyers, preservationists, land owners and trusts. The more people are informed the better chance this has.
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST NEWS
The Refuge's 30 day comment period ended on 11/30, but the fight to save The Pink House has just begun - on a new level! Everyone joined together makes the cause - and effect - much more powerful... in fact, impossible to ignore.
The GOOD NEWS is: Your voice has been heard and is making a difference. But WE ALL need to KEEP SPEAKING UP and TAKING ACTION to keep the momentum going (even through the holidays).
Because the BAD NEWS IS: DEMOLISHING THE PINK HOUSE is STILL in FWS's plans... to start as early as end of January or early February, unless something substantial happens to change that. One of the ways is if they have land they are pursuing. We asked them to make criteria more visible and to keep putting it out there. We ourselves are doing all we can to spread the word and criteria, and those who share our posts have helped. Another is that we continue to ask for an extension of demolition, so we need to keep the word circulating, and help to find it.
YOUR VOICE MADE A DIFFERENCE because FWS went from saying all options had been exhausted to Matt Hillman, Refuge Manager, saying he'd rather there be a land swap, and putting out increasingly clear criteria, at our request.
The anticipation of a huge response from you forced a public meeting, which Senator Tarr took the reins to plan... and transparency and face to face meetings with the public must continue.
The enormous outcry via social media and contacting ParkerRiver and our elected officials made this issue impossible to sweep under the rug... asking for our elected officials to join the conversation and make change must continue.
From your voices came substantial media coverage - which must continue!
WHY IS YOUR VOICE STILL NEEDED? Because UNLESS WE ALL KEEP IT UP THE PINK HOUSE WILL STILL BE DEMOLISHED.
Support The Pink House formed in response to so many locals and visitors desire to see The Pink House restored... and we have worked behind the scenes for years on your behalf, never giving up on solutions no matter how many road blocks and complications arose. We have never given up... and don't intend to now.
We have gotten new life because we've been joined by all of YOU! It takes everyone now.
TOGETHER WE'VE GOT THIS! Demolition needs to be stopped altogether until a solution can be found. That's why there's more work to do... SO what can YOU DO? See below and pass the word!
HOW YOU CAN STILL HELP SAVE THE PINK HOUSE
CALL ELECTED OFFICIALS
Ask: Where is THEIR voice for you?
Congressman Seth Moulton
Governor Maura Healy
Senator Bruce Tarr Bruce.Tarr@Mass.senate.gov (617) 772-1600
Thank him for calling the public meeting. Ask to keep the conversation transparent, as was his aim, and working to represent your concerns.
Rep Krisitn Kassner Kristin.Kassner@mahouse.gov (617) 722-2000
Rep Dawne Shand firstname.lastname@example.org (617) 722-2400
Ask them to get more involved, to be a voice for you. Tell them ho much this matters to our area, to tourism, to our economy and artists. While they take care of other issues, this is also important to you who voted for them -- and it's urgent.
HELP FIND LAND TO SWAP
GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT LAND CRITERIA!
We tried to make that as easy for you as possible. Click any link and it will immediately open up in an email for your convenience!
Want other ways to help? CLICK HERE to see other ways like writing letters to the papers, volunteering, following us on social media, etc..
Even if you only have one minute to do something like sharing this blog post, IT ALL helps! Together we are STRONGEST!
Stay tuned right here, and come back often to read all the updates! THANK YOU!
Work to save The Pink House has involved many many people. These are well respected, well known professionals in their field. Many have worked with or been hired by the parties we were working with themselves, including Fish and Wildlife's Parker River Wildlife Refuge.
Most are local and all did it because they understand why The Pink House matters so much.
These people pushed aside income producing work, and gave advice, services, resources and hours and hours of their time PRO BONO to help this get done on behalf of all of the people who want to see it remain.
If that's not a significant vote for The Pink House's importance to this region, we don't know what is!
This does not mention the elected officials and many other organizations who have been included in countless meetings, phone calls, and emails with us over the last 8 years. What will it take to make FWS Realty and Refuge managers understand the consequences for our community in which they have their Visitors Center, run programs, keep a large reduce and ask for donations and volunteer help if they demolish it.
The Parker River Refuges's comment period came to a close yesterday, November 30th. Many are asking, what did all that mean? That is a question for Matt Hillman, Refuge Manager.
A public comment period is a matter of process for an agency like The US Fish and Wildlife Service. It often is 60 days, but can be shorter or longer. Eight years of work on several solutions, with 2 different refuge managers, 1.5 years without one, FWS Realty personnel, conservation organizations, preservation agencies, municipal involvement, and just about every area elected official at the local, state and federal level, in addition to the materials FWS offered is a LOT for people to digest in only 30 days.
Senator Tarr stepped in to create one meeting on November 20, though held during the work day Thanksgiving week. All were grateful for it but felt it was not enough. Kathleen O'Connor Ives, former Sate Senator, attended and commented on this process, saying it is hardly enough time for the people to educate themselves fully, ask enough questions, and hear all sides.
But the comment period is now over. What now?
One misunderstanding is that if the Refuge got enough comments to keep The Pink House standing that it would make a difference in their plan to demolish it. People have written us asking was the comment period about voting to keep the house, put a platform on the footprint with up to 4 cars in the driveway, or to put nothing there at all? Was it just an exercise? Those are good questions that should be asked of Matt Hillman, who stated it is his decision.
The Refuge put out this statement: "Staff are currently reviewing all public comments submitted between November 1-30, 2023. It will likely take at least 1 month to analyze comments, draft responses, and edit the plan before a final draft is published some time in the New Year. While the public comment period has ended, anyone with potentially viable land exchange opportunities may still reach out to refuge staff at email@example.com (see this page for specific land exchange criteria)."
We the people don't have a 30 day limit. Support The Pink House has never given up and will continue to fight, now with all of you who also want to see this iconic landmark saved and restored for generations to come.
We THANK YOU for all you have done so far. And ask you to continue to make your voice heard!
Keep an eye out here and on our social media, for an article on next steps and what you can do to help!
That November Full Moon ~ always bringing in the highest tides! Incredible how some areas seem to fill with all that surge... and others do not. Below is the launch at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge, just inside the gate. It's usually dry all the way to those two poles you see in the center. But yesterday, the water came right up to the road.
Many people are questioning recent statements by Fish and Widlife, who say this property floods as if it happens all the time or is a reason not to save the house and restore it. The The Pink House is in the AE FEMA Flood Zone, as are most of the homes around here and much of the Refuge. That same flood zone comes right up to the edge of the Refuge Visitor Center on the corner of Rolfe's Lane.
These photos were shot on the same day and time and the one of The Pink House below, clearly showing it's property as dry.
Many drove out to see it for themselves. Below is a another person that posted virtually the same angle of The Pink House on the same day.
The below shows The Pink House's comparatively higher ground all around the parcel during a regular high tide. By the way, what does it matter to FWS - or anyone - if there would soon be a new owner of house? We don't hear any talk about the homes across the way.
No civilian has been in The Pink House as often as the man on the left in the red shirt, Bill Barrett, HIC/CSL licensed owner of Plum Island Construction and Plum island Property Management. Bill did the first walk through of the house in early February 2016 on the community's behalf, to see how stable the house was before we began this work to save it, and reported she had good bones - no cracks in the foundation, all windows and walls straight, no leaks from the roof, confirmation it's on the PIOD (Newburyport water). Bill subsequently checked on the house many times a year, especially before and after significant storms. There was a 1.5 year break before and during early Covid when there was no manager, and the house suffered from negligence. But the house is still completely salvageable.
This photo is from what was to be the final walk through, on August 16, 2022: the month FWS set for closing.
Below is Bill's most recent letter of conditions of The Pink House, 60 Plum Island Turnpike, Newbury MA.
November 18, 2023
Evaluations, Observations and Suggestions for the property known as “The Pink House”.
My name is William Barrett, Owner of Plum Island Property Management. I am a retired home builder, remodeler and general contractor. Currently I am the owner of Plum Island Property Management. I help my customers evaluate property, obtain building permits for remodeling and new construction projects and manage their properties for them. I have been in the building and remodeling business for 49 years.
I have visited “The Pink House”, (TPH), on many occasions dating back to early 2016. I have evaluated and given opinions on the conditions of the building and the property in whole.
Below is a synopsis of my thoughts:
The last time I was on the property and in the house was in August of 2022.
My opinions, evaluations and observations of the building have not changed dramatically in those years.
It has been 7 years since I first looked at this property. I have volunteered my time to paint some areas and foam the openings and gaps due to rotting wood. The Fish and Wildlife personnel have done some minor repairs to the window openings and the 1 roof leak we detected. At our suggestion they have also cleared out the brush and shrubbery that had grown up around the building.
I would have to say that a lot more could have been done to keep the building in better condition. However, with that said the building is worth saving given its current condition and the fact that it is a historic and iconic symbol for the Plum Island area. It is a viable structure that can easily be restored to its past glory.
Anyone who actually understands construction would know what is in there is common to 75% of the houses around here and can easily be remedied without harming the environment or workers. And FWS knows this too. We have their reports. it is being overblown. And commenters who are not experts in the subject who inflate it even more are doing the community a grave disservice.
We've wanted Fish and Wildlife to clearly spell out their specific criteria for land swap to save The Pink House out to the public for a long time. Here, in one place, is criteria defined and explained.
FWS is looking for a willing landowner who will directly exchange their lands for the Pink House OR sell their lands to a local Restoration Partner, who would then exchange the land for the Pink House (to restore it).
YOU DO NOT NEED TO OWN THE PINK HOUSE TO EXCHANGE YOUR LAND.
If you have land anywhere in the country that fits the below criteria, you do NOT need to own The Pink House in exchange! Our Restoration Partner is available to buy your land to make you whole, then exchange it for The Pink House/acre. He intends to restore it on his own dime according to our perpetual preservation restriction. WIN WIN!!
HOW TO ASSESS VALUE:
Because they can’t sell the house/acre, they want to do a land trade: That means your land should be of roughly equal-value (i.e., $400,000+), and there can be a gap in which some cash can be added to make up the difference. They’d like it to be 10% or less but if the land is truly beneficial to their mission, whether the value is monetary, ecological, or usefulness, we have seen them willing to consider a bit higher cash gap.
Preferred is contiguous to or within a mile or two of a current Refuge anywhere in the US, as the crow flies. But it can also be anywhere they want to start a new Refuge (which they would know). So anywhere you have land to roughly fit their specifications should be sent in.
1. Salt marsh and/or adjacent upland habitats, access to water or a road, with equal or greater ecological value to FWS. Most marsh land is worth about $1000-1200 an acre, so meeting close to $400K is a lot of acreage.
2. Parcels of less acreage could be combined to get closer to the monetary value works. Parcels of higher monetary value due to being part or wholly upland, or having features such as water or road access works.
3. Upland in the price range that is near a Refuge or a location that may have value for a use like storing equipment near a light house they own, or rescue boats they can get to from a road to use in flood zones.
WHAT OF ACREAGE WITH A STRUCTURE?
FWS doesn't prefer it that but if the land is right, that can be demolished - by them or others. If can demolish The Pink House for tens of thousands of dollars, they should certainly consider prime land with a structure. It would just be better if it wasn't there.
HOW TO SUBMIT
Send any options to BOTH firstname.lastname@example.org, and FWS at email@example.com.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. PLS talk to your neighbors, your town administrator and planner, your family and friends near and far. You never know!
We've wanted FWS to put their specific criteria for land swap to save The Pink House out to the public for a long time. FWS stated that "all options have been exhausted" in their November 1 Press Release, website and reports and we said that's just not true. Because of the overwhelming response from the public (KEEP IT UP!) each week they list more and more specifics. Here was their last summary in case it makes the above easier:
A direct exchange with a willing landowner is the most likely path, but only if it meets requirements under federal law and is compatible with the refuge’s mission. For this to occur, the following conditions must be satisfied: (1) a landowner within 1-mile of refuge boundaries (2) the exchange lands must be of approximately equal monetary value to the 1-acre Pink House parcel ($400,000-$500,000), and (3) the exchange parcel must be of greater ecological value than the upland and marsh habitat on which the Pink House sits.