At the City Commission meeting Tuesday night I posed the question again of “where is the money coming from” to move the lighthouse to the city to Mayor Mel. I could never get an answer no matter how many times I tried or how many “red herrings” Mel threw out to not answer the question. His answer over and over was “it will be there”. I questioned “what was the big secret if he had the money” but never got anywhere. At the last meeting, and I quote “we need concrete numbers,” when the Board was discussing the Gulf Pines building. Where are the “concrete numbers” for the lighthouse move?
The City has $325,000 from a state grant and $25,000 from Duke Energy. The bid to “move” the lighthouse complex is around $500,000 without including moving the power lines. The cost to move the power lines one time is $170,000. It could be double that if FDOT will not allow the entire complex to move down the road at one time. The Mayor requested that the Governor intervene on behalf of the City of Port St. Joe to have Duke lower the cost of moving the lines. That is against the law. Duke Energy is the good guys having made a grant, one of the highest they have given to move the lighthouse. The moving of the lighthouse will essentially block SR 30-A for a full day from the Cape to St Joe. There are other costs that are not in the bid to “move the lighthouse” by the City that haven’t been revealed.
I asked other commissioners if they knew the true cost. None could answer in the affirmative. The State grant will go away in June. The grant could be moved to the County for them to move the lighthouse to Salinas Park, but not if the City delays much longer. The County will need that grant to save the lighthouse. This continuous posturing by the Mayor could result in the Cape San Blas lighthouse not being preserved at all!
At the last meeting, the City Commissioners spent a considerable amount of time discussing the $21,000 needed to repair the roof of the Centennial Building. After much discussion it was decided, and I quote “I guess we’ll just have to dip into the BP funds again.” Is this what they are planning to do when it is revealed that the City does not have the funds to move the lighthouse? Dip into the BP funds? Is this where the mayor “it will be there” has the money? Is this where the citizens of Port St. Joe want that money spent?
The County has personal pledges from Cape citizens to make up the difference in the cost to move it to Salinas Park. The County can move and have the lighthouse complex set up and operational for around $450,000. It can be placed-at Salinas in an X zone, 12 to 14 foot above sea level. The City is placing the complex in a flood zone, below sea level. The County would be moving it less than two miles. The city around 25miles. The historic Cape San Blas lighthouse has been on the Cape for over 160 years. The Mayor wants the lighthouse because he thinks they will make money off of it. And they won’t. It will actually cost money both initially and ongoing. This is not about saving the lighthouse. The County will step up and do that.
Because keeping the lighthouse on the Cape has the moral high ground, Mel decided to attack me personally stating that I had an alternate motive for keeping it on the Cape. That shocked me for a minute but then I realized he was making it look like I would have personal gain. I pointed out that my company builds custom homes and does not move lighthouses. My motive is clear and has been for over two years. Keep the historic Cape San Blas Lighthouse on the cape. I am a volunteer, and like other volunteers in this county beat up by the politicians who want power and control. I will assure anyone that I will not make any personal gain from my efforts to keep the lighthouse on the Cape. Mel’s Folly of making money from the lighthouse without considering the City’s cost is a different issue.
Will the City Commissioners ask the same question that I did? What is the total cost to the City to move the lighthouse complex and have it totally functional and what will be the future cost to City residents? Will City residents ask their Commissioners to ask the question?
Dr. Pat Hardman
Cape San Blas