Relocation feud stalls lighthouse restoration

Associated Press Published:

PORT CLINTON -- Restoration work on a century-old wooden lighthouse has stalled amid a disagreement between its owners and a northwest Ohio city along Lake Erie.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy and the owner want to put the revamped, four-sided structure at a park just offshore.But Port Clinton officials want it further from the water, The Toledo Blade reported.

After a yearlong stalemate, the conservancy is trying to rally residents to pressure city officials to change their minds.

Conservancy president Richard Norgard argued in a letter to the newspaper that putting the preserved lighthouse on the waterfront could attract visitors and help boost the local economy.

"We believe that the full restoration of the lighthouse and its placement on the waterfront will do more than preserve a vital piece of local history for future generations," Norgard wrote.

The lighthouse was built in 1896 and guided boaters entering the Portage River for about three decades, but it was relocated and has been at its owner's marina for more than 60 years.

Owner Darrell Brand and the conservancy began talking with city officials in November 2011 about how the lighthouse could contribute to downtown revitalization. Brand offered to transfer ownership to the city, whose council accepted the offer before negotiations fell apart.

Mayor Vincent Leone said Brand's demands included placing the lighthouse in a certain park.

"Anytime we can secure an important part of our history we think it's a good idea," Leone said. "But it was a gift with a lot of conditions, so I was unwilling to accept those."

The conservancy has raised about $13,000 of the expected $30,000 total project cost, said John Smothers, a member of the restoration group.

He and other volunteers have started refurbishing the top of the lighthouse, which was removed more than a year ago. He said the next step would be replacing rotted wood and the base.

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