Negotiations are underway to possibly trade Parker River National Wildlife Refuge land where the iconic Pink House is located to Essex County Greenbelt, a regional land conservation group.
To that end, a meeting organized by Support The Pink House volunteers is scheduled for today on the island. Support The Pink House is an online group whose mission is to ensure the vacant house on Plum Island Turnpike remains standing.
The Pink House, built in 1922, stands on three parcels totaling 9.2 acres. Since 2011, it has been owned by the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge/US. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because it is owned by the federal government, residents can't take possession of the uninhabited building to stabilize the home.
Support The Pink House Chairman Rochelle Joseph said Essex County Greenbelt's president has come forward with a piece of land that might make the most sense. If a land swap take place, it would be with the promise that the house would not be significantly altered if it is sold to a private buyer. For example, the current roofline would remain and the house would remain pink.
"We're as close as we've ever been," Joseph said of a possible resolution.
A call to Essex County Greenbelt President Edward Becker was not returned by press time.
In recent years, federal officials scheduled for the building to be torn down. But Support The Pink House volunteers and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge manager Bill Peterson have collaborated to delay demolition for the time being.
On Thursday, Peterson confirmed the meeting with Greenbelt but stopped short of calling it a negotiation. Instead, he said the meeting is about exploring options regarding swapping refuge land for other land that has greater conservation value.
"The first step is to make sure we have all the necessary funding to cover the realty costs," he said.
Peterson said there have been past meetings about the Pink House and the land where it stands, but recently more progress has been made.
"We're getting closer to formalizing something," he said.
Joseph said she was far from popping any champagne corks.
"When I feel good is when we succeed," she said.
To learn more about the Pink House and the organization that protects it, see supportthepinkhouse.com.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.