The Friends of Fort Knox Board of Directors responded favorably to a request from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands to help  stave off cuts to its budget. The FFK Board voted to assist the bureau by accepting a request for a 50-percent reduction to its management services contract for one year. Under the management services contract FFK provides interpretive tours, entrance-fee collection, marketing and outreach services for BPL.

A separate contract with the BPL has FFK personnel staffing the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, which the organization states is performed essentially at cost.

Chris Popper, chairman of the FFK Board, indicated that past management contracts with the bureau had allowed the organization to retain 50 percent of fort-only admission fee income to meet contract staffing needs and assist with fort preservation projects. Fees collected from admission to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory go to a special account set up by the Maine Department of Transportation to pay for the new landmark’s staffing and maintenance needs.

Popper related that the FFK Board is aware of the budget challenges facing Maine and wanted to help the BPL, rather than seeing it forced to make cuts. FFK works in direct partnership with BPL to preserve and enhance one of Maine’s most visited state historic sites. Popper indicated that by accepting a 50 percent reduction in management contract fees, the organization would have fewer funds for preservation projects this year, but nonetheless, projects will continue.

During the past two years FFK has been engaged in the Century and a Half masonry project. The project has stabilized bricks and masonry that might have posed a public safety threat, reopened the cistern rooms of the enlisted men’s quarters, reopened the southern demibastion of long alley and repointed much of the 10 casemates of the interior of the fort.

The masonry project will continue this summer and the organization intends to seek funds to restore the final area of the fort closed to the public because of safety concerns. Funds will be sought to restore a powder magazine adjacent to the north-facing main casemate areas of the fort. The powder magazine suffered serious wood deterioration from decades of water infiltration from the roof.

The FFK’s mission is to preserve Fort Knox and enhance its educational, cultural and economic value for the people of Maine. Individuals who would like more information on the private nonprofit, would like to join or make a donation are encouraged to visit the FFK Web site at fortknox.maineguide.com.