Lighthouse restoration to cost Port $1.7 million

Mayor hopes state infrastructure funds, historic structure tax credits will offset cost of fixing landmark

BATTERED BY WAVES for 86 years, the Port Washington lighthouse is in need of repairs and repainting. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

It will cost the City of Port Washington $1.7 million to repaint and repair its lighthouse, Mayor Ted Neitzke announced Tuesday.

That amount, said Neitzke, includes everything that is needed, including reinforcing the steel structure, repainting it, replacing the broken porthole windows and pouring a new concrete base that will match the recently repaired breakwater.

“This will bring it back to the original specs,” he said.

Neitzke said the estimate came from CD Smith, adding that he, Street Supt. J.D. Hoile and other officials recently went out with company representatives to view the structure.

Neitzke said he’s already looking into ways to fund the repairs.

He told aldermen he has been in contact with Rep. Rob Brooks’ office, and they are working on a letter to Gov. Tony Evers asking that the state provide funding for the lighthouse repairs.

In addition, he said, the lighthouse may qualify for historic tax credits.

“If we can get the funding, they can move on it in spring,” Neitzke said, adding that, weather permitting, the work could be done in about six months.

The Port lighthouse has been a symbol of the city for decades. Built in 1935 for $38,000, the Art Deco-style lighthouse consists of a metal tower that rests on a 20-foot-square cement base that has large arches on each of its faces.

When the city took ownership of the lighthouse from the Coast Guard in 2018, estimates were that it would cost as much as $30,000 to fix the porthole windows and as much as $1 million to repaint the lighthouse.

But many people questioned those estimates, particularly the amount required for painting the structure, but officials noted that this is because the lighthouse is clad in lead-based paint, which requires a contractor to enclose the lighthouse and use negative pressure to contain the substance during the painting process.

Since then, the structure has continued to deteriorate. Virtually every window is broken, and the exterior is rusting.


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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.

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