Is moving the Cape San Blas Lighthouse to Port St. Joe more important than domestic violence programs, homes for heroes, youth advocate programs...

Dear Editor:

Is moving the Cape San Blas Lighthouse to Port St. Joe more important than domestic violence programs, homes for heroes, youth advocate programs, reading programs, back 2 hope summer programs, ventilators in nursing homes, veterans’ programs and providing jobs in Port St. Joe through supporting the Port of Port St. Joe?  These are just a few of the items that were cut from the State Budget to make room for the $325,000 budgeted to move the Cape San Blas lighthouse to Port St. Joe.

We were told that the cost to move the Cape San Blas Lighthouse to Port St. Joe was $350,000, when in fact, the City had submitted a Restore Act grant for $982,000.  We were told that no taxpayer money would be used……..where in fact does that $325,000 come from?  We were told that moving it to the City was the safest place, when in fact the beach at Salina’s Park is growing annually, and, the City plans to move the Lighthouse to a flood plain.  The Florida Historic Lighthouse Association awarded a $20,000 grant to save the lighthouse – no matter where it was moved.  This money has already been spent on engineering how to put the lighthouse in the flood plain.

Aren’t there better uses for our taxpayer dollars, and, the time spent by those representing us, such as the causes cut above?  If you, the constituents of Port St. Joe had your choice of how to spend $1million dollars, would it be to move the lighthouse?  Or, are there other pressing issues the City should spend time and money on?

It is this type of misinformation that led the Air Force to award the City the lighthouse in the first place.  The original plan was an interactive park in Port St. Joe.  Due to public input, that park is off the drawing board.  I encourage you to contact your representatives and make your voice heard on the spending of this $1MM.  What value does the Lighthouse bring to the City?  NONE.  It will only increase City costs to maintain this facility.  WHY move it to town?   The Tourist Development Council has conducted a study which confirms that tourism will NOT be increased by having the Lighthouse in town. 

A replica or like structure could be built for hundreds of thousands of dollars less, which would actually accommodate more than a couple of people to climb to the top at a time? The Cape San Blas lighthouseis not designed for a tourist attraction with a lot of traffic.  No original working lighthouse is, and, this one is difficult to navigate, has limited access, and possess a liability so that busloads of visitors from retirement homes or younger children are not an option.  The lighthouse it is not self-sufficient and has to be subsidized whether the City or County has it.  The County has spent approximately $40K annually in insurance, maintenance, grounds upkeep, etc.  If the City residents are going to accept that obligation, what services are you willing to give up to do so?

 The real question again, is WHY?  Why use taxpayer money to move the Cape San Blas Lighthouse to Port St. Joe when citizens have collected over $100,000 in private donations to keep the Lighthouse on the Cape at Salina’s Park.  The entire move of the lighthouse, the keeper’s cottages and the oil house to Salina’s Park would be approximately $250,000.  The beach is growing annually in this location.  It is the Cape San Blas Lighthouse and has overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph’s Bay for over 160 years?  Do we really need a lighthouse to overlook the City of Port St. Joe?  Will it be an eyesore and look out of place?

Moving the Lighthouse to Port St. Joe destroys the 160 years of historic value.  Port St. Joe has very much history that is not capitalized on……why not focus on the history of Port St. Joe and leave the Cape history as it stands?  If the true intent is to save the lighthouse, then all would agree that using private donations to move it safely to Salina’s Park is a much better option that using $1M of taxpayer money to move the lighthouse to the City, for no returned value whatsoever.

Those interested in saving $1,000,000 of taxpayer money and preserving the history of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse can make donations (anonymously if preferred) at  No monies need be collected at this time, only your pledge, so that when the City cannot raise $1MM, or the people of Port St. Joe let their voice be heard, the Lighthouse can be saved and moved to Salina’s Park before storm season allows Mother Nature to take her from us.

Respectfully submitted,
Julia Cunningham
Cape San Blas, Gulf County Florida