Citizens of Port Clinton,
Last fall, after a resisting for more than a year, the mayor agreed to allow the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy, which had been working diligently to restore the city’s 118-year-old lighthouse, to place the historic lighthouse in Water Works Park north of the Derby Pond.
Almost a year later, we are still waiting to place the lighthouse in the park.
Granted, not all of the delay is the city’s fault. We were all surprised to learn last fall that the city does not have total control over the park’s waterfront. By Ohio statute, this area is considered “formerly submerged lands.” To use the property the city needed to apply for a submerged lands lease, and although the lighthouse itself will only occupy an area of land 25 by 30 feet, the state insisted on a lease for the entire lakefront from the east pier to the wetland area. So the city had to apply for a lease for the large area, and then a sublease for the lighthouse plot. The Conservancy, anxious to move the process forward, worked with a local architectural firm to complete the application for the city. Following a lengthy review, the city submitted the paperwork earlier this summer. The state Office of Coastal Management (OCM) reviewed the application, gave their okay, and sent the lease paperwork back to the city for final review and requested a letter from the city asking for a sublease for the lighthouse property. Once OCM gets the paperwork back they’ll forward it to Columbus for signatures by the head of ODNR and the Governor.
But now the city is baulking – again.
The lighthouse is now fully restored. The Conservancy is ready to break ground. The return of the lighthouse to the waterfront will without a doubt be the most significant event in Port Clinton in a decade. Each day the city delays means a potential loss of revenue for local businesses. According to Diane Rozar, state park ranger at the Marblehead Lighthouse, one of the three questions most frequently asked by visitors (other than specific questions about the lighthouse itself) is, “Where is the next closest lighthouse I can visit?” She would love to be able to tell them the Port Clinton Lighthouse. It is estimated that the lighthouse park at Marblehead gets about 1.2 million visitors her year. Between 18 and 22 thousand people alone make the climb to the top of the light each year. Lighthouses are a major draw and a major source of economic development for coastal communities that a fortunate enough to have them. Why doesn’t this city get it?
Let’s not wait another year to get our lighthouse in the park and open to the public. Tell the mayor to get the lease paperwork and sublease request back to Costal Management today.
Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy
Members: Darrell Brand, Rev. Robert Butcher, Doug Garrett, Joan Hickman, Debbie Hymore-Tester, Kyle Johannsen, Bill Moon, Commander Jerry Nauert, Rich Norgard, Dr. John Smothers, Alex Thomas