New London non-profit fights for historic lighthouse access

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NEW LONDON - There’s a new push for access to Connecticut’s oldest lighthouse, New London Harbor Light.

You’ll find “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs all around the historic lighthouse. That’s because other than the lighthouse itself, which is owned by the New London Maritime Society through the U.S. government, all the surrounding land is privately owned.

“It was a lighthouse before any houses were there and 100 percent of the time it is still a lighthouse,” said Susan Tamulevich, executive director of the New London Maritime Society. “There’s a great public interest and pride in the lighthouse.”

The Maritime Society has been doing its best to make it available to the public and has held several open houses.

“People were so happy," Tamulevich said. "They said all their lives they had driven by and seen the lighthouse by sea and never did they dream they would be able to get into it.”

Their neighbors weren’t so happy about it. The private property owners served the society with a lawsuit last year but the society has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Neighbors recently put up a barricade on the access road to the lighthouse. The society was granted a temporary injunction this month, while they work through these issues in court.

In the meantime, the Maritime Society is working on a different way to gain access through a project that was already in the plans.

“The dock is a historic feature and we’ve always meant to restore it,” said Tamulevich.

They’re raising money through an online fundraiser and applying for grants to build a new dock at the lighthouse. They need to raise $175,000 total, so people can gain access to New London Harbor Light by sea without trespassing on anyone else’s land.