Among local projects included in the state budget currently being crafted by the Florida Legislature is a $325,000 appropriation to fund the relocation of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse.
The money is in the budgets of both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. The houses are currently putting the final touches on the budget in conference before passage.
“The money is listed under local projects and that means (Rep.) Halsey Beshears and (Sen.) Bill Montford would be the sponsors since they are our local representatives,” said Port St. Joe Mayor Mel Magidson.
“All I know is that it was proposed as a local project. We hope it will be sent to the governor. Until he puts paper to pen, you never know.”
Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen would be the final hurdle to securing the funding.
For example, a $5 million appropriation for bulkhead improvements at the Port of Port St. Joe was vetoed last year after clearing both legislative houses.
Magidson noted that state law contains a mandate that the Legislature must appropriate dollars to preserve historic structures, lighthouses in particular.
“I am hopeful we will get the money,” Magidson said.
Based on current estimates, the money would fund the relocation of the lighthouse, two keepers’ quarters and an oil house from Cape San Blas to George Core Park in Port St. Joe.
The lighthouse would become the centerpiece of the park, the site near Miss Zola Drive and the historic Maddox House property.
The appropriation would also represent, by far, the largest contribution to the relocation project. A fundraising campaign by the St. Joseph Historical Society has thus far yet to exceed $40,000.
It would also represent the first use of taxpayer money in the project, which commissioners pledged not to use.
The move of the lighthouse and ancillary structures is estimated to cost $200,000-$250,000.
That would not include the cost of any site prep work, foundational work in George Core Park or ongoing maintenance.