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Lighthouse dwelling sold

The Ridgeway Herald special web release May 19, 2011 edition

Fort Erie town council accepted a last-minute offer to purchase the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling for $450,000.

It is half the original asking price of $899,000 and still leaves the Town short by $371,000 to meet the $1.38 million cost to restore the lighthouse.

Staff recommended cancellation

Town staff had recommended cancelling the restoration project because no offers had been received to purchase the dwelling, but councillors were informed Monday that Vincent Brannigan had made an offer.

The shortfall for the reconstruction will be funded from the Town’s facilities reserve to be replenished by the tax levy — approximately a 1.8 per cent increase, according to councillor Rick Shular.

He said with all the other spending priorities and expected increases in committed costs, he can’t “in good conscience go back to my constituents or the people of Fort Erie in general with this number.”

Council accepted the bid from Phoenix Restoration Inc. for $1,326,726.22 including HST for the project.

Council had decided March 28 to go ahead with issuing a tender for the job even though it would have required a $1 million commitment from local taxpayers if the dwelling could not be sold.

The Town faced a deadline because a grant offer from the federal government would expire next March if work was not complete. The $425,000 commitment from the feds had already been extended from the original expiry of March 2010.

Councillor John Hill said he was confident that external fundraising could meet the shortfall and is working with the Point Abino Light Station Preservation Society to do that.

PALPS runs trolley tours to the lighthouse but revenues are less than specatcular with perhaps a few thousand dollars having been raised.

Councillor Bob Steckley said the lighthouse “means a lot to some people” and despite the financial challenges with litigation over Bay Beach, roads and other facilities, “doesn’t mean you stop looking after the assets that you have.”

Councillor Don Lubberts said the Town would not be in the position to fork over so much money if small amounts had been dedicated in the past.

He also suggested that a heritage asset strategy be developed to plan for the maintenance and repair of the Town’s substantial inventory.

Mayor Doug Martin said council is “pre-committing dollars from next year’s budget” and councillors won’t like the choices they will have to face in upcoming budgets if the Town goes ahead with the project.

In the end, Hill, Steckley, Lubberts and Paul Collard voted to approve the project bid.

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  1. Ryan | May 17, 2011 | Reply

    $1,326,726.22 for something nobody can barely get to and nobody will ever see…what a waste of money! If our town’s population is still around 30,000 – that’s $44.22 we each spent on this white elephant!!!

    Thanks again to the Fab4 councillors…

    Now our facilities reserve is empty…the town is like a person with a credit problem – soon as they have a dime to spend, they spend it on junk.

  2. Ron Leggett | May 19, 2011 | Reply

    It should be restored.the lighthouse is a historical landmark.The town bought it some years ago but never spent a dime on it.any building you have to maintain it i don”t think this building is any different.The Town has spent money stupidly before why should this be any different.Bottom line is if you own it take care of it.They should have stayed away from the CONDO deal then they would have lots of money.But NO now they have to fight a lawsuit over there DUMB move.I like to see the outcome over this deal.

  3. Lesley North | May 30, 2011 | Reply

    I was recently told decisions by council are final even when they are made on false information or in this case (the lighthouse) not in the best interest of the taxpayers. That being said: I feel that even though the councilor that admitted to acting on false information and told me “The decisions is final accept it and move on”, is not willing to hold himself to the same standards that he expects you and I to, that he did make an important point. Councilor Steckley, I have been thinking of what you told me to do and you are right. I will be looking at ways that proper fund raising for this project can raise money to lessen the affect on the taxpayers. Thank-you Councilor Steckley for the great advise. Now I ask you to live up to the same standards.

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