More progress made on Range Light acquisition

BY SUSAN ERWIN —

Plans are moving forward to restore the historical Gasparilla Island Light, the old Boca Grande Rear Range, located off Gulf Boulevard.

rangelightSharon McKenzie, Executive Director of the Barrier Island Parks Society, said restoration crews have recently been on site doing an assessment.

Workers from Alex Klahm Architectural Metal & Design, Ken Smith Architects and Razorback Corporation were at the range light on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve been working very closely with the Coast Guard to enable a restoration group to go in and figure out a final cost on restoration,” McKenzie said. “Part of the process will be creating a scope and architectural drawings to be viewed by the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office). The goal is to restore the lighthouse, built in 1927, back to the original 1927 condition that included a black cupola. Some of the restoration crewmembers have worked together on more than 22 lighthouses, according to McKenzie.

Once the specs and drawings are complete and the SHPO office has reviewed the documentation for the project they will be sent over to the Coast Guard for approval.

Commander Barry of the Coast Guard will have to sign off for the final license.

The National Historic Preservation Act for Lighthouses requires a specific protocol be completed a certain way. McKenzie is a member of the board.

“We have a very good working relationship with the Coast Guard. Unless a major setback occurs, we anticipate we will get the license before year’s end,” McKenzie said.

The Historic Gasparilla Island Light is a 105’ tall range light located on Gasparilla Island about mid-island which has not been maintained for decades and is in dire need of repair. One of the few standing original range lights, it was built in Delaware in 1881, and moved to Gasparilla Island in 1927.

First lit in 1932, it remains an active aid-to-navigation with a six-second flash during evening hours.