BIPS: Renovated Gasparilla Island Range Light soon to be unveiled


The tenting on the Gasparilla Range Light will be coming down soon. Barrier Island Parks Society Executive Director Sharon McKenzie said all of the metal work is done on the light, and the finishing touches on the painting should be completed by the end of December.

“The unveiling will take place between December 28 and January 3,” she said. A dedication ceremony is being planned for early April 2017.

Board member Larry Hannah said the project is now about 70 percent complete.

“We’re on budget and we are in good shape. We still need to raise about $360,000 to achieve our goal,” Hannah said. He added that Florida Lighthouse Day will be on April 8, and the plan is to have the Gasparilla Island Light open then, too.

Linden Hustedt discussed the director slots on the board. He said that although Tom Ervin expressed interest in joining the board, his work duties at the clinic will prevent him from attending the meetings, so he will defer joining until his schedule allows.

Rick Black said Krista Potthast-Haynes has expressed interest in joining the board. And Hustedt suggested Dan Headington as a potential new board member. Those individuals will be invited to the January meeting to be voted in. Gasparilla Island State Park Manager Chad Lach said the director of Florida State Parks was recently asked to step down from his position, but there are still two assistant directors running the show.

Lach also said there is still an open part-time park ranger position available that he is trying to fill. Anyone interested should call 964-0375. Lach said there was a rare late-season green turtle nest at Don Pedro Park in September that staff is currently monitoring. The hatchlings should be arriving soon. He said new mattresses have been installed in the Cayo Costa cabins, and the park is looking good.

The 2017 Green Gala is planned to take place on Monday, March 20 at the Boca Grande Pass Club. Tickets are $135, and table sponsors are needed. Western attire is encouraged, in accordance with the theme. The Friends of Cayo Costa are busy planning “An Evening for the Island,” a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 at the Tarpon Lodge at 13771 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia, Fla.

The event will feature dinner, a cash bar and a silent auction. Tickets are $75 per person or $60 for members. Reserve by calling 239-292-0218. McKenzie said the Lighting of the Lighthouse event was well attended, with more than 475 guests visiting the park that evening.

Only eight board members attended the December meeting, so Hustedt said most of the items on the agenda would be deferred until the January meeting, which is planned for Monday, Jan. 16. A special assessment meeting will be held in February.