On the Island

Star Island to Open its Doors!

Star Island Personal Retreats

Personal Retreats on Star Island will begin on Sunday, July 22nd—details are now available and we are taking reservations.

A message from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director. This information is also available as a PDF media release.

As you know, we have been working closely with the Rye Fire Department and New Hampshire fire officials to outline a thorough process to enhance the level of safety at Star Island. As a result of the assertive planning and execution of the life safety upgrades, we are pleased to inform you that today the Rye Fire Department granted Star Island permission to reopen.

We are so thankful for the support of the safety officials who guided our people through this process, to the licensed professionals who completed the safety upgrades expeditiously, and to our people and the generous community for its uncompromising support as we worked diligently to make the essential life safety upgrades.

Star Island will reopen its doors to conferees Sunday, July 22, 2007.

Our focus now turns to our hotel operations so we may ensure our facilities are ready for the arrival of our conferees and other visitors. We are now contacting conference leaders directly to inform them of the opening as we coordinate the new transportation schedules and other details. We ask for the continued patience of our conferees as we make these arrangements.

During the next several days, we will be contacting our vendors, ordering food, and making the beds in anticipation of our guests. We apologize again for this disruption and we look forward to serving everyone again in the days and months ahead.

We have asked our conference leaders to begin assessing the interest of conferees in attending a personal retreat model conference. Star Island will begin taking reservations from planned guests on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 5 p.m. Priority will be given to the conferences scheduled for this time period. Reservations may be made by contacting the front desk of Star Island’s Oceanic Hotel by calling (603) 601-0832. Complete registration details will be published here on the website as soon as they are available—before 5 p.m.

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)

On the Island

July 10th Update from Star Island

An update from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director

Work at Star Island continues as we direct our energies toward conducting and completing electrical work which will make our island safer for conferees and visitors alike. During this period, the island remains closed to overnight guests. Our goal is to reopen in early August. We will reassess and update that benchmark as we proceed with our work.

We are grateful for the support of the Rye Fire Chief and state and local fire and electrical inspectors in helping us identify critical work. This work is being performed by electricians. In the meantime our summer staff—the Pelicans—are dedicating themselves to completing required work and projects that will help make our island both safer and more accessible and will help to preserve our historic structures (including removal of brush that constitutes a fire hazard, exterior painting, and so on).

While, with the support of the Fire Marshal, we are pleased to welcome day visitors to the island on a limited basis, we can not accommodate larger boats on our dock due to our need to allow our work boats to have free access to that space. Access to Star Island can be gained via the Uncle Oscar or by sailing or motoring a private boat which can be moored in Gosport Harbor—contact Kittery and Portsmouth Yacht Clubs for permission and information—and then rowing a dinghy to our dock. Please note that all day visitors are to stay off of porches and out of all buildings, with the exception of use of the restrooms in the Brookfield building.

We will update this website regularly with new information as it becomes available and appreciate the support of the public, our conference family, and the greater Portsmouth and Rye business community as we work through these short term challenges to make everyone’s Star Island experience safer and more enjoyable.

On the Island

June 27th Update on the Conference Season Delay

An update from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director, and Brad Greeley, President

The Star Island Corporation profoundly regrets to announce that it expects Star Island to be closed through early August until further assessment of its electrical systems and mandated work are completed for fire safety purposes. Star Island expects to open fully in early August for the remainder of its normal conference schedule.

If you have concerns regarding a conference scheduled during this time period, please contact your conference chair. Conference leadership contact information is listed on the Conference Calendar page on our website, or in your Blue Book. Alternatively you may call the Star Island Corporation office at (603) 430-6272 so our staff can assist you.

The Star Island board and staff sincerely regret the difficulties being caused by this temporary situation. Those familiar with Star Island’s history are aware of the legacy of communities which have successfully weathered the challenges of survival in our remote New England island setting. We are confident that this community will do the same, and we look forward to opening in August in a better and safer position than the island has seen before.