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Construction on the Grass Island Shack will take place this summer. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
One of Guilford’s most iconic structures, the red shack on Grass Island, is almost ready for its facelift. After months of fundraising and planning, Eagle Scout candidate John Markowski is getting ready to start construction.
Markowski established “Save the Shack” as his Eagle Scout project back in 2015. After a lot of work, he said the fundraising phase of the project is almost over.
With help from the Guilford Foundation, which is matching all donations up to $10,000, he said he has raised a little over $20,000 so far.
There are a few more fundraising events on the horizon, but Markowski said he is getting ready to start construction.
“I am still waiting on a final set of drawings from the architect so once I have those drawings I have to get them approved by the town and then we will be all set to start out there doing actual work,” he said.
The town currently owns the little red shack. The current structure was once privately owned and erected in 1930, after a fire burned down a circa-1900 summer cottage on the grounds. In the 1950s, it was pushed up the beach to higher ground to avoid rising waters. In 1963, the shack and its perimeter of land were given to Guilford.
Markowski said his work will not change the look of the shack.
“It is not going to look any different, it is just going to be safer,” he said. “There are a lot of holes in the deck and the whole structure all together isn’t safe. Really just fixing it up so that the fence can come off and it can be safe again for people to go out there and have a picnic or whatever.”
The structural integrity of the shack is in need of repair, according to Markowski, who says it has been severely damaged by weather over the years.
“The first step would be to remove the deck and the roof,” he said. “The center structure is completely fine, so that is not going to be touched at all, it just needs to be straightened out because the past few hurricanes we have had really twisted [it]...Once that section is straightened, we will attach a new deck and a new porch roof.”
To get the work done, Markowski said he is looking for donated materials and volunteers to help out.
“I am hoping that a lot of the bigger stuff such as the roof will be done by a professional contractor,” he said. “For stuff like the roof, it could be dangerous to just have anyone out there. I have had professional contractors reach out to me and say they will volunteer their time—that will be a big help.”
Markowski said the town and the community have also offered to help out.
“I have had a lot of outreach from the community of people wanting to volunteer and get involved,” he said. “The town has offered me their work boat to get back and forth with material and people and what not and I have also had a lot of people reach out to me and say, ‘Hey I have a boat in the marina, I’d love to let you guys use it to get back and forth.’”
While there has been lots of feedback on the project, Markowski said most of the community has been supportive about the project.
“Like with any other project, you get positive feedback, but then you also get negative feedback,” he said. “I understand it is a large project and some people are a little concerned with its size and a teenager doing it, but I do think I have the backing from the community that I need to complete the project and I have such an outpouring of people wanting to help and donating so overall it has been great.”
Construction of the project should be completed by the end of the summer.
“It’s not too fun working out there in the winter,” Markowski said.
To learn more about the project or to donate, visit www.savetheshackguilford.com. The next fundraising event will take place at the Guilford Mooring on Tuesdays, July 12 and 19; 10 percent of the proceeds from each day will go toward the project.