GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 11, 2013

Thacher opening comes with new fees

By Gail McCarthy
Times Staff

---- — ROCKPORT — The Thacher Island Town Committee and the Thacher Island Association have announced that the distinctive inshore island with the twin lighthouses will once again be open to visitors beginning this Saturday.

But this year, there will be fees to take the launch boat over to Thacher, in addition to landing fees.

For those visiting the island on the Thacher Island Association launch boat, there is a fee of $20 for adults and $10 for children 14 and under. There is no charge for Rockport residents or current Thacher Island members.

For those visiting the island by kayak or other means, there is a $5 landing feet, though again, it is free for Rockport residents and current members. All funds collected will be returned to the Town of Rockport’s general fund.

Those wanting to go by the Thacher Island launch need to call 617-599-2590 to make reservations.

Paul St. Germain, president of the Thacher Island Association, encouraged people to join the association to save money.

“It always pays for people to join for a $60 family membership, because you can take up to six members of your immediate family on the launch,” he said.

In a recent letter to selectmen, Sydney Wedmore, chairman of the Thacher Island Town Committee, said that enhanced trails, increased amenities, and other improvements to Thacher have broadened its popularity as a destination.

“However, the costs of these improvements and maintenance of the infrastructure have been inequitably borne,” he wrote.

Since 1982, Rockport residents have provided support, both as budgeted monies and through the use of the town’s Community Preservation Act funds.

During that same period, the Thacher Island Association has raised more than $2.1 million for upkeep and preservation. But 65 percent of Thacher visitors are neither residents of Rockport nor members of the island association, noted Wedmore. Although a donations-welcome box greets visitors to the island, the average individual donation has only averaged 80 cents a person.

The island landing fees give visitors full access to all public areas of the island, including:

Three miles of groomed paths from which they can see birds, migrating butterflies, and a variety of vistas;

One of the two lighthouses, which is open to climbing;

A picnic area with tables;

A small museum dedicated to Thacher Island history;

Historical restorations, like a whistle house and elevated tramway trestle;

For more information and launch schedules, visit www.thacherisland.org.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.