City on the hook for cost of lighthouse work

Officials say they have searched in vain for grants to offset nearly $2 million project

Lending credence to the adage there’s no such thing as a bad day for fishing, three anglers in a small boat trolled in the Port Washington harbor as snow fell on Monday, March 7. In the background is the city's lighthouse, which is in need of repair and repainting at a cost of nearly $2 million. Photos by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington will be responsible for the almost $2 million in renovations and repairs the lighthouse needs, Mayor Ted Neitzke said.

The city has searched for grants and other funding sources to pay for the work, he said, but hasn’t found any.

“We’ve exhausted every possibility,” Neitzke said. “No one could help us at the state or federal level.”

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said Tuesday the city is working with Legacy Architecture of Sheboygan, which conducted a lighthouse preservation and maintenance plan for the city in 2017, to obtain an engineering proposal for the work.

The proposal will cover full restoration of the lighthouse, including concrete and sheet metal work, new windows and painting.

Vanden Noven said the city has budgeted $100,000 for the work and also expects to receive a $40,000 Coastal Management grant  to help cover the cost.

The engineering study should be completed by the end of the year, he said.

The intent, Vanden Noven said, is to get a good idea of the cost of restoring the lighthouse so funds can be placed in the 2023 budget for the work.

The city could apply for another Coastal Management grant to help offset the cost of the restoration, he said, adding, “It would be a mere fraction of the cost.”

But the city will continue to look for grants for the project, Vanden Noven said.

“We’ll keep searching,” he said.

Work on the lighthouse would likely be done between June and September 2023, Vanden Noven said.

After the repairs are completed, Neitzke said, it will be a priority for the city to set aside money annually for continued maintenance of the structure.

The lighthouse, which was built in 1935 for $38,000, consists of a metal Art Deco tower that rests on a 20-foot-square cement base that has large arches on each of its faces. 

Since it was built, the lighthouse has been a symbol of Port Washington, used on everything from the city’s logo to postcards. 

But in recent years, the lighthouse has fallen into disrepair and efforts to fix it have largely gone unrealized.

Repairing the lighthouse is a priority for the city, both Neitzke and Vanden Noven said.

“How do you not do it?” Vanden Noven asked. “In my opinion, you can’t not do it.”

Neitzke said the project “has got to be a priority. That’s our symbol. That’s what you see everywhere — it’s our city logo. So many people go to visit it every year.

“Is it a community priority? Definitely.”


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login