The Barrier Island Parks Society believes it is closer than ever to taking control of the rusting, deteriorating range light the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Defense have allowed to become a safety hazard.
BIPS President Jim Grant was on hand when the USCG allowed lighthouse restoration expert Alex Klahm to look inside the range light Nov. 7. Klahm found two dead birds, a light unresponsive and rust throughout, including some so thick on the door it was difficult to open and close.
"It's a treasure, an icon for the island," Klahm said after the roughly hour-long inspection. "It's a shame it's in this situation."
The newest BIPS Directors, from left: Capt. Tom Locke, former BIPS president Larry Hannah, Nancy Lingeman and Pete Roberts.
Klahm estimated it would take roughly $400,000 to right the range light with new fasteners, sand blasting and paint job. His two samples indicated there was no lead paint still left on the tower, which is riddled with rust holes that look worse than they are, he said.
'It's very repairable," he said.
Grant said BIPS will seek to gain a long-term lease of the range light from the DOD with the blessing of the USCG. He said it will take a community effort to raise the repair money and a community group will be formed to guide its annual maintenance.
What: BIPS Board meeting
When: 9 a.m. Dec. 10
Where: Amory Chapel
Contact: Call 964-0060
What: Port Boca Grande Lighthouse lighting
When: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8
Benefits: Free finger food, drinks
Where: south end of Gasparilla Island
The alternative is not good, Grant said.
"If nothing is done, some day it will blow over," he said. "Bottom line is we need the DOD to relinquish rights to the property. You could hardly open the door. It's dangerous."
In other BIPS action:
New BIPS directors Capt. Tom Locke, former BIPS president Larry Hannah, Nancy Lingeman and Pete Roberts were sworn in. BIPS has 19 directors now.
BIPS membership is up to 364.
Joan Ardrey and Larry Hannah are co-chairs of the Green Gala, which will have a Swashbuckler's Ball theme Feb. 22. There will be table for eating, no gambling and tickets cost $100.
BIPS will spent $660 on an ice cream freezer for the museum.