On the Island

Work at Star Island to Enhance Life Safety Ongoing

Island Life Continues for Pelicans in the spirit of the original Gosport Shoalers.

(This is a Star Island Media Release)

Isles of Shoals, NH—Work at Star Island to enhance life safety is ongoing under the direction of safety engineers who are on island regularly to execute a plan being devised by fire officials and Star Island jointly. Meanwhile, its seasonal Pelican staff is taking the opportunity to develop a community of active learning in the spirit of the original Gosport, a fishing village founded in the 1600’s, as well as work on maintenance projects. The outpouring of support from community members continues. “The safety of our employees, conferees and visitors has been and remains our highest priority,” said Amy L. Lockwood, executive director of Star Island Corporation (SIC). “We are working closely with state and local fire officials to ensure safety remains paramount and history is preserved. We are grateful for our long–standing relationship with the Rye Fire Department and New Hampshire fire officials. We have worked together to build a thorough plan to enhance the level of safety. We now have life safety engineers engaged and on site to execute the plan.”

Star Island Corporation experienced a delayed conference opening due to crucial fire safety upgrades. This temporary closure has affected conference groups from throughout the Northeast region. “We take full responsibility and we apologize to our conferees and business partners for this disruption,” Lockwood said. “We are grateful for the continued support of our conferees, business partners and visitors. We look forward to serving everyone again very soon.”

Star Island is committed to making changes to its internal operations to ensure future safety improvements are built into its strategic plan, executed in a timely manner and facilities are well maintained to meet or exceed applicable codes. The SIC Board of Directors has established a committee to review the elements which lead to the delayed opening and recommend any changes to board policy and process or the staff and its process. It is expected the committee’s report and recommendations will take several months and that a progress report will be given to the board at its August meeting, Lockwood said.

“Our immediate focus is to ensure life safety remains paramount,” Lockwood said. “This means we will continue to work diligently to complete the crucial life safety upgrades that will make certain our people and our facilities are protected and allow the conference center to open as soon as possible.”

While Star Island Corporation works diligently with fire officials towards completing the vital life safety upgrades on the Island, people from all walks of life are rallying to support Star Island’s fundraising efforts and preserve its history. “We are grateful for the enormous outpouring of grassroots support from our conferees, business partners and the general public,” said Lockwood. At the same time, the seasonal Pelicans have taken the opportunity to enhance their Pelican community by creating an environment of active learning and teaching one another in the areas of philosophy, photography, knitting, bike and furniture repair and reverse osmosis education, a process used to turn salt water into drinking water on island. They also share nature walks, history lessons and the ghost stories and legends of Gosport from centuries past and present.

The full time and seasonal staff, also known as Pelicans, continue to perform maintenance tasks in anticipation of the guests’ return. For example, the Pelicans are undertaking fire prevention tasks such as expanding Star Island’s fire break. The fire break is a 50- foot buffer between the natural brush on the island and buildings that would delay the spread of any fire and provide more time for evacuation. Persistent teams of Pelicans are working in full Tyvek body suits to clear brush.

Other Pelicans are tasked with maintenance projects such as painting, siding, roofing and carpentry. For example, furniture repair and bed building is ongoing including the construction of 26 new beds to replace those in disrepair. The front porch, remembered by visitors most often for the tranquility found in its wooden rocking chairs, has undergone a full clean-up.

The full-time staff has integrated a new apprentice program into its maintenance planning in the temporary absence of visitors. This is the intentional recruiting of seasonal staff – Pelican apprentices – who came to Star Island in entry level positions and may be interested in working with other departments in future summers. Apprentices are working in maintenance, the Vaughn Museum, the Shoals Marine Lab, the kitchen, and in logistics.

“Work at the Island continues and we will keep the public informed of our progress moving forward,” Lockwood said. “We wish to extend a warm gratitude to the local and state fire safety officials who are guiding us through this process and to our generous community for its unyielding support.”

The nonprofit Star Island Corporation has owned and operated Star Island for “religious, educational, and kindred purposes” since 1916, providing affordable individual and family retreat. While Star Island is founded on the liberal spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ, people of many denominations and faiths (including none) attend conferences regularly. Each of the Star Island conferences is self-administered by a dedicated group of volunteers and the island is staffed in the summer season by over one hundred young people, affectionately known as Pelicans.

Anyone interested in supporting Star Island’s fundraising efforts may log onto its website at starisland.org. Contact the development team about fundraising efforts by calling Karen Muldoon directly via email at kmuldoon@starisland.org or by calling the Star Island office at 603-430-6272.

Media Contacts:
Amy L. Lockwood
Executive Director of Star Island Corporation
603-430-6272 (O)
603-817-8694 (C)

Michelle Firmbach
Aqua Communications, LLC
603-334-3434 (O)
603-834-2424 (C)