According to an announcement made by Executive Director Sharon McKenzie, she has been informed that there exists a written document in which the U.S. Army, relinquishes its claim to the land on which the light sits, along with approximately six acres surrounding it.
The Coast Guard, which owns the actual light, has long indicated a willingness to turn the structure itself over to the state or a private entity, a practice that has become common with lights around the country.
In this case, it is anticipated that the light and property will become part of Gasparilla Island State Park, which includes the land adjacent to the Army property.
The problem has been with acquiring the land itself from the Department of Defense.
There will be a conference call with all involved parties, including BIPS, the Park Service and the Department of Defense, on Wednesday, March 20.
“We hope to see some progress on this,” said BIPS Board President Jim Grant. “Our plan is to restore a beautiful icon.”
Two new directors were introduced at the meeting; John Cleghorn and Ross Witschonke.
A last-minute addition to the agenda was the topic of the new bathrooms being built in the Amory Chapel parking lot. The project has stirred controversy among the residents of Belcher Road, which faces the site.
Grant reiterated that BIPS was in no way involved in the decision, planning or funding of the project.
“We were informed that the restrooms were being built,” said Grant. “But we have had no part in it.”
The restrooms will be built on pilings to meet FEMA building regulations. The Lee County Tourist Development Council is financing the facilities.
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