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Michigan City Lighthouse Needs an Owner

A forum to discuss lighthouses in the US Great Lakes Region
(Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and the lake lighthouses of New York & Pennsylvania)

Postby Grover1 » Thu May 03, 2007 7:52 pm


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Postby Grover1 » Sun May 06, 2007 4:30 pm


Editorial from The News-Dispatch

City should seek lighthouse at once

Rick A. Richards

Maybe now is the time to rethink Michigan City's signature. Instead of a lighthouse, we could use a prison watchtower.

Or the NIPSCO generating station.

Those sound like pretty goofy ideas, but not any more goofy than Wednesday's announcement by the federal government that it wants to give away the city's landmark lighthouse.

That's right, they want to give it away. Free.

Of course there are a few strings attached, like making sure it still operates as a lighthouse and that it be used “for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes.”

The General Services Administration surprised everyone Wednesday - including city officials - when it announced that Michigan City's lighthouse was now considered “excess to the needs of the federal government.” That's why feds decided to offer the property “as is and where is without representation, warranty, or guarantee as to quality, quantity, title, character, condition, size or kind.”

What that really means is that the feds don't want to pay for its upkeep anymore. They're looking for someone else to take over that financial burden. Anyone interested in what is officially known as the “Michigan City East Pierhead Light” needs to send a letter to the GSA's Property Disposal Division in Chicago and let them know of their interest.

Local or state government gets first dibs, followed by not-for-profit organizations. After that, things are pretty much up in the air, but if no one is interested, GSA spokeswoman Paula Santangelo said it would most likely be operated by the Coast Guard.

This is a no-brainer, folks. It's Michigan City's lighthouse. It belongs to us. Without the lighthouse at the city's lakefront, Michigan City is just another town with a nice beach. The lighthouse is what sets us apart from every other community between Chicago and St. Joseph, Mich. It's the only lighthouse in the state and it's undoubtedly the most photographed building in the city.

Michigan City should take it over. It should become one of the focal points of Washington Park.

Mayor Chuck Oberlie said Wednesday that while the city was interested in taking over the lighthouse, he wanted to set up a group of city officials and members of the public to study the issue. What's to study?

Either Michigan City wants it or it doesn't. If the city wants it - and it should - then move on it. The city has until July 2 to response to the GSA offer, but why wait?

The mayor said he's worried about potential liability and the cost to maintain the building. The liability can't be any more than it is for the Observation Tower and the city seems to cope just fine with that.

And if the concern is about the cost, then set up a separate entity to operate it. Private donations helped the city save the landmark catwalk along the pier. It can do the same thing with the lighthouse.

The Michigan City Historical Society says it's not in a position to take it over, so there's no possibility of anyone's feelings being hurt by creating something new to take charge of the lighthouse.

This is a huge opportunity for the city. Sure it's going to cost money, but there are all sorts of possibilities available - grants, private donations, even the possibility of a fee to tour the lighthouse or even take a guided walking tour from the Old Lighthouse Museum along the pier to the lighthouse. Who wouldn't want to pay a couple of bucks to take a look inside the lighthouse?

I've always wondered what it was like inside and I'm sure a lot of other people have wondered the same thing.

A walk along the pier and a view out the windows of the lighthouse would be a heck of a lot more appealing than the view from the top of a prison watchtower.

Rick A. Richards is city editor of The News-Dispatch. He can be reached at rrichards@thenewsdispatch.com or at 874-7211, Ext. 441.
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Postby Hersh » Sun May 06, 2007 5:45 pm


I guess I wouldn't call the excessing of the lighthouse "goofy", he does make a couple of points in there. I hope the city does decide to take it over if no one else does. It really is the city's icon.
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Postby Grover1 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:37 am


Follow up .... from The Gary Post-Tribune

http://www.post-trib.com/news/470857,mc ... se.article
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Postby NoahG » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:05 pm


Interesting. It's too bad they don't currently plan on offering tours. That would really be a draw to their lighthouse.
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Postby Grover1 » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:56 am


Update ... from The Post-Tribune ...

http://www.post-trib.com/news/588006,mc ... se.article
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Postby Grover1 » Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:41 pm


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Postby Grover1 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:28 am


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Postby NoahG » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:32 pm


I hope they realize the potential this light has for their community. To be a city with two lighthouses presents a unique opportunity.
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Postby Grover1 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:30 am


Cant argue this vote result ... from The Post-Tribune

http://www.post-trib.com/news/778941,mc ... se.article
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Postby NoahG » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:53 am


Awesome news. Another Lake Michigan beacon with a bright future. Lake Michigan is becoming "one stop shopping" for lighthouse variety and accessibility.

I feel that if Ludington Breakwater and Holland Harbor can be open to viewing, this light can too.
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