New London Maritime Society taking one last shot at Little Gull Island

The New London Maritime Society hasn't given up on trying to acquire Little Gull Island, enlisting letters of support to change the federal government's plan to sell it to the highest bidder.

The maritime society began its pitch in an email blast about two weeks ago, and thus far, about 50 people have responded by sending emails to the General Services Administration, the federal agency in charge of the sale of the 1-acre island in eastern Long Island Sound, said Susan Tamulevich, maritime society director.

"People understand that once it's gone and in private hands, it's gone," Tamulevich said Tuesday.

She said supporters need to send emails to the GSA as soon as possible, because a decision on the sale could be made as soon as Monday.

The GSA auction ended Oct. 17 with a high bid of $381,000 for the island, which includes a lighthouse. The high bidder was not identified by the GSA. Under GSA procedures, it will announce whether the high bid will be accepted 60 days after the close of the auction. The nonprofit maritime society's highest bid was $160,000.

Tamulevich said the maritime society has contacted the state's congressmen and senators to enlist their help in convincing the GSA to sell the island to them instead of to the high bidder.

"We're offering ourselves to be the stewards," she said. "This is an important part of our maritime history."

The maritime society would own the island and work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to manage it as shorebird habitat and nesting area.

The maritime society is urging people to send emails recommending that it become the new owner of Little Gull Island to Gabrielle Sigel, at gabrielle.sigel@gsa.gov.

Patrick Sclafani, spokesman for the New England office of the GSA, said Tuesday that the sale is anticipated to close "in the next several weeks." He said the GSA has received several letters urging the agency to sell the island to the maritime society, including one from Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

j.benson@theday.com

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