Range Light update: Donations up to $725,000, but still a long way to go

■ STAFF REPORT     rangelight

Larry Hannah, chair of the Gasparilla Island Light fundraising effort, reported that donations have reached $725,000 in cash and pledges. That’s still well short of the project budget of $1.783 million but within reach of the minimum $1.2 million deemed necessary to begin significant phases of restoration during the summer and fall months “off season” time frame.

Sharon McKenzie, executive director of the Barrier Island Parks Society, said it is anticipated that if another $500,000 can be raised by the end of April, their dream of restoring the land and structure to its 1927 splendor can begin to materialize.

Jim Grant, head of the restoration committee, reiterated the often overlooked fact that this licensing deal encompasses “a lot more than just fixing up the present deteriorating eyesore range light.”

“It includes 7.4 acres of prime Gulffront property, which will forever be preserved and protected from any alternative use,” he said. “What we have learned during our fundraising activities is that the majority of islanders believed the Range Light sits on State of Florida property. Not so. It is federal property transferred to us under the stringent National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, and the ‘quid pro quo’ for this gift of property is that BIPS has agreed to restore the Range Light to its original condition when it was erected on our shoreline in 1927.  That is why we are asking for more financial support immediately, so we can proceed with our promise. BIPS is asking you to help them achieve their goal. If you haven’t already, visit the BIPS website at: barrierislandparkssociety.org and review the brochure, “Help Keep the Light Shining on Boca Grande.”

Tax-deductible contributions should be made to the “Light Keeper’s Fund” and sent directly to BIPS at P.O. Box 654, Boca Grande, FL 33921. Multi-year pledges and gifts of stock are also welcome.