MANISTIQUE - Manistique City Council approved moving forward in collaboration with the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy to acquire the city's federally-owned Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse. The action was taken during a recent city council meeting.
According to Manistique City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the city was recently notified the lighthouse had been placed on the U.S. General Services Administration's disposition list. Currently, the federal government owns the lighthouse through the GSA, but they are now looking for caretakers of these lighthouses to save money.
"They are disposing of lighthouses," explained Aldrich. "They have been for the last several years as a cost-saving measure for the federal government."
As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program, GSA is offering these 12 historic lighthouses along the Great
Lakes and Atlantic seaboard "to eligible state or local governments, non-profit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations" at no cost, according to its website. If each lighthouse is not transferred to a public body or non-profit organization, it then goes up for public auction.
The program strives to move toward President Obama's goal of cutting real estate costs by more than $1.5 billion to save $3.5 billion by the end of the year, according to GSA.
Aldrich said the city was contacted by representatives from the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy regarding the light and its preservation.
Jeff Shook, president of the conservancy, contacted Aldrich to see if the city was interested in acquiring the lighthouse, and if they would like to collaborate on working toward its acquisition and preservation. The group has already acquired two lighthouses in Muskegon and is working on acquiring a lighthouse in Alpena this year.
Council voted to approve working with the lighthouse conservancy in acquiring the lighthouse, giving them approval to fill out the acquisition application. Council also approved paying $2,500 for an engineering firm to look at the lighthouse, come up with a cost estimate and maintenance plan for its preservation. The city and the Manistique Downtown Development Authority will support the acquisition with funding, and will act as conduits when applying for possible grant funding, she said.
"Once the engineering firm comes up with a cost estimate for restoration, then we'll know what grant we'll need to be looking for and what dollar amount," said Aldrich, who added the city is committed to keeping the lighthouse and working with the conservancy.
"The lighthouse is an important part of Manistique," said Aldrich. "It is Manistique in a lot of people's eyes, and letting it go isn't really an option."
According to Aldrich, the group has submitted the required letter of interest into acquiring the lighthouse.