Now for the encore.
With the Cape San Blas Lighthouse successfully moved to George Core Park in Port St. Joe, the effort to preserve and restore the lighthouse and ancillary buildings moves into a new phase.
The move, completed without apparent harm to any of the structures, which include two keepers’ quarters and an oil house, also came in under bid estimates.
During Tuesday’s regular bi-monthly meeting of the City Commission contractor GAC submitted, and had unanimously accepted, a change order reducing the price of the move by $17,500.
“I was impressed,” said Commissioner Rex Buzzett of the raising of the lighthouse. “I was impressed with the number of folks who came out to watch. I was impressed with the workers and the job they did.
“I was most impressed with the workers, after everybody gathered for last instructions, they all took off their helmets and said a prayer. That impressed me. It was like they knew they needed divine intervention for what they had to do.”
A popular question concerns whether the lighthouse will ever light again and on plans for the park and lighthouse complex.
The lens, which had not beamed in decades, was removed last year under contract from the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard owns the lens, which was insured for half a million dollars, said Mayor Mel Magidson.
“It is a rare and unique item,” said Magidson.
The Coast Guard would not agree to reinstall the lens.
However, the city and Coast Guard entered into a loan agreement by which the city will be allowed to display the lens for the public.
That exact location has not been determined, but the long-term goal has been to return the lens to the lighthouse complex at George Core Park for display.
“It needs to be somewhere people can see it and enjoy it,” Magidson said.
As for lighting at the lighthouse, Magidson said discussions were ongoing with the Coast Guard concerning what sort of lighting might be permissible both for the top of the lighthouse itself and to accentuate the structure itself.
Any lighthouse atop the lighthouse could only be turned on occasionally, Magidson said, not full-time.
Lighting at the complex, said resident Ann White, was needed immediately.
At night the park area is very dark, she said, given the closest lighting comes a nearby street.
The city was vulnerable to a lawsuit should someone be injured in the dark, White continued, and the lighthouse and buildings make the situation more pressing.
“Something really needs to be done soon,” she said.
As for the rest of the complex, focus will be on painting the lighthouse tower and rehabbing the keepers’ quarters.
One keepers’ quarters was restored by the U.S. Air Force, which deemed the lighthouse surplus two years ago, and the other by the St. Joseph Historical Society, which used state historic preservation dollars to restore the second, nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty.”
But two years after the Lighthouse Gift Shop was moved out of “Sleeping Beauty” after the lighthouse was closed due to shoreline erosion issues, the two buildings are now in a state of disrepair.
A plan to restore them and how to fund that effort is part of the current process.
“Getting it moved was kind of on the front burner,” Magidson said. “We will have things we have to do at the park. A lot of that is still in the planning stage.”
NPSJ water line replacement
The project to replace aging water lines in a large portion of the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe should be completed by the end of the month, said Clay Smallwood of Preble Rish Engineers, the city’s engineer of record.
The completion falls after the end of a 30-day extension that commissioners, frustrated by the pace of work, granted contractor GAC last month and which arrived Wednesday.
The project, delayed by nearly a year by governmental red tape due to the coordination of state and federal grants, lately, the slow progress of work, is the first phase of line replacement in the north side of the city.
Magidson said he was satisfied if the end of the month would bring full completion.
Also pertaining to water, water plant staff continues to see good progress in addressing manganese in water through pre-treatment with chlorine, said plant supervisor Larry McLamma.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials have visited, McLamma said, and were pleased with the progress and the properties of the water coming out of the plant.
Manganese was identified as the culprit in the number of complaints about “dirty” or “ice tea” water.
The number of those complaints, said Public Works supervisor John Grantland, have dropped significantly.
McLamma and staff continue to explore moving to introducing lime to the treatment protocol to address red water issues, which are being largely addressed with the water line replacement work of the past several years.