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Port Washington
No such thing as a free lighthouse, mayor warns PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 20:06

Although Port will not pay to acquire pierhead light, cost of repairing, maintaining it will be significant, he says

    The message from Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada last week was blunt — long-term repairs to the lighthouse will cost a significant amount of money that the city doesn’t have.
    It will take investment from the community to help make these improvements, Mlada said.
    “We have to be open about this,” he said. “This is going to have to be something the community embraces. The funding for these significant long-term (issues) is unknown.”
    Mlada gave a presentation on the lighthouse ownership and funding as part of his initiative to discuss pressing issues in the community and their budgetary impact.
    Officials are still waiting for the federal government to convey ownership of the lighthouse to the city, something Mlada said is “a very significant responsibility.”
    Short-term repairs to the structure are estimated to cost $30,000, he said, including $25,000 for replacement of the porthole windows.
    The city has about half that amount already, much of it realized through the sale of lighthouse ornaments created by John Reichert, an artist and owner of Chocolate Chisel.
    Reichert plans to continue those fundraising efforts with a special ice cream flavor and sales of lighthouse candy bars, Mlada said. While significant, these are just “chipping away” at the expenses.
    Long-term, the city needs to invest between $500,000 and $1 million to repaint the structure, Mlada said.
    Other enhancements are also envisioned, such as lighting the exterior and improving access to the interior of the structure, he said.
    “We’re going to have to figure out a way to get people into the first and second levels,” Mlada said.
    The city has also applied to have the lighthouse named to the National Register of Historic Places, he said, adding it will likely take four to six months for a decision in the matter.
    The city has established a Lighthouse Preservation Fund and plans to seek grants, private donations and other sources of funding to pay for the long and short-term work, Mlada said, but the impetus is on the community.
    “The key is anything we raise goes right back in,” he said.    
    The city has received two 18-inch-tall replicas of the lighthouse that it plans to place in cases atop donation boxes, Mlada added. One will be placed at the gateway to the breakwater that leads to the lighthouse, with funds collected daily, and the other will rotate between the Niederkorn Library and businesses in the community.
    “Every little bit adds up,” he said, noting they will provide an easy way for both tourists and residents to contribute to the cause.
    “We hope the community supports this. This is really built on fundraising,” Ald. Doug Biggs said, contrasting it with repairs to the breakwater, which the city is helping fund.
    If the community wants the city to fund the lighthouse work, he noted, something else has to give.
    “That would mean less money for roads, for the breakwater, seniors, whatever,” he said. “Tell us what your priorities really are.”

 
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