I've been watching all the back and forth pertaining to the lighthouse with both amusement and concern. Putting all the drama aside, my first concern is to see the lighthouse saved. I love them and never grow old of visiting an old Fresnel lens when I get the chance. Like the sailors that took comfort in their steadfast aid to navigation, people, adults and kids alike, are naturally drawn to them. The have a calming effect.
With regard to the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, I have my own ideas as to what is best. And to be honest, had it been decided it should remain on the cape and relocated to Salinas Park, I would have respected and been happy with that outcome. It does represent the most affordable solution to my highest priority, saving the lighthouse.
However ... you knew there had to be a however, right? I mean what good is a letter to the editor amidst a local controversy without a little, however. However, the lighthouse's relocation to the City of Port St. Joe makes the most sense, representing the best probability for a positive influence over the entire area in the long haul. The opportunity to convert visits into a positive economic impact is best served with the lighthouse in the city. That kind of economic return just wouldn’t be realized if the lighthouse was moved to Salinas Park.
While I applaud the city’s award, I must side with Christy McElroy and her concerns as expressed in the, "Bay Park Workshop" article featured in The Star dated Jan. 17. Her comments are spot on. I couldn’t agree more. I understand all we are currently seeing are conceptual ideas, but we don’t need to turn our waterfront into any resemblance of an amusement park. What a huge mistake that would be. Doing so would only cheapen both the rich history of the area and the lighthouse itself. We can do much better to showcase both.
The visitors of the cape area are a more mature group, to include their children. They like what is naturally offered about the area without the need for fabricated entertainment. The forgotten coast is unmolested. This is one of the key reasons people come back, year after year. It is also the reason my wife and I are the proud owners of our cottage in town. In the mornings when I walk my dog, Ms. Dixie, along the waterfront, I can't help but feel so fortunate to be in a place so close to town, yet still beautiful, so undisturbed.
As this project moves forward, let’s keep one simple thing in mind. Lighthouses do not need cheap, or in this case, expensive gimmicks to get attention or gain attractiveness. Lighthouses have their own magnetism without the need for human intervention. All that is needed is better access. A tasteful placement along the waterfront will do that just fine, bringing people closer to our shops, artists, and restaurants. We would be far better served diverting those additional resources towards continuing the revitalization of the downtown area to prepare for those additional visits. That is, unless the goal is to be more like Panama City. If that’s the case, you're moving in the right direction, unfortunately.
Kirk S. Jockell
Port St, Joe