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City will officially receive lighthouse, land next week

By Staff | Apr 14, 2010

Next week, residents are invited to attend a patent transfer ceremony for the Lighthouse Beach property, after which the City of Sanibel will officially become the land title holders of the most recognizable landmark on the island.

After waiting more than five and a half years for the transfer application to be approved, the city was given the opportunity to purchase the 125-year-old Sanibel Lighthouse – and the surrounding 44.7 acres of property – from the United States Department of the Interior for $10 per acre, or a total cost of $447.70.

The official ceremony will take place at the foot of the lighthouse, at 1 Periwinkle Way, on Wednesday, April 21 starting at 10 a.m. Scheduled to speak will be the mayor, a representative from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management and Sam Bailey of the city’s Historic Preservation Committee.

Standing 98 feet tall and constructed of iron pile, the open pyramidal-frame structure is the southernmost lighthouse in Florida next to Key West. It was automated in 1949 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the same year Sanibel became incorporated.

On Feb. 5, 2010, the city received a letter from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which stated that the land on which the lighthouse sits has been classified suitable for use under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1926.

“The Sanibel Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” the letter stated. “All future rehabilitation of buildings and/or structures on the site must be carried out in a manner that is compatible with their historic and architectural qualities and consistent with the recommended approaches for rehabilitation set forth in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines.”

Among the conditions of approval for the sale was requiring a licensed archaeologist to be present during any an all ground-disturbing activities and requiring revenue generated through usage fees or lease of the facility to be utilized in the management and maintenance of the properties.

According to City Manager Judie Zimomra, the city will now be able to apply for historical preservation grants to assist in the funding of repainting the Sanibel Lighthouse.

“The Sanibel Lighthouse is our community’s icon… and now it is our local responsibility to protect this icon for future generations,” she said.

The city is also working on developing a long-term master plan for the property and cottages at the site, which may include a long-proposed lighthouse museum.

“I’m hoping to see some good things from the lighthouse,” councilman Jim Jennings said after the resolution to purchase the landmark was unanimously approved. “I think there are some good ideas in use around the country with other lighthouses.”