Lights out for Point Abino Lighthouse funding request
One month after the Point Abino Lighthouse Preservation Society wrote to Fort Erie town hall asking for more money to fix the lighthouse, the group has abandoned the controversial request.
On Oct. 9 town hall received a letter from PALPS president Rick Doan, stating he wished to withdraw an earlier request he made for $15,000 to complete restoration.
The lighthouse, which is owned by the town but sits behind the gates of a private community with limited public access on a few weekends in the summer, has become a hot topic on the municipal campaign trail, with different candidates proposing all sorts of ideas, including selling the property, tearing it down, or putting more money into further restoration. Some candidates have even suggested running boat tours to the site since it is largely inaccessible by land because the only road leading to the lighthouse is controlled by the homeowners of the gated community surrounding it.
In the letter from Doan, he cites unspecified “ongoing issues” as the reason the funding request was being withdrawn. Doan was contacted for comment and asked to elaborate on the reason for the change of course regarding funding, but declined to do so.
“Our executive of PALPS has decided not to lower ourselves and respond to [James Culic] or your paper,” he wrote in an email.
Back in 2012, Doan and PALPS were instrumental in convincing the town to spend $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars on restoration work at the lighthouse.
Some candidates have argued the town didn’t really spend $1.5 million on the lighthouse because the money came from a few different places, but the entire amount was funded with tax dollars.
When the town first purchased the lighthouse in 2003 it only paid $5,000 for it because it was landlocked by private roads and in bad condition. The deal did include the nearby lighthouse keeper’s house, which the town originally planned to sell and turn a profit from.
The town shopped it around for years, hoping to get $900,000 for the house, but eventually settled for less than half of that, selling for $400,000.
That $400,000 from the sale of the house (which was taxpayer money added to the town’s general reserves) was then added to a $400,000 federal grant (also public tax dollars), and the remaining $700,000 was pulled largely from town reserve funds to reach the $1.5 million needed for the restoration.
The Point Abino Lighthouse has been at the centre of a heated debate on the campaign trail.