St. Joseph looks at making lighthouse repairs - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

St. Joseph looks at making lighthouse repairs

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For the past couple years, St. Joseph has been working through the process of obtaining the lighthouses on North Pier from the federal government. With only a few steps left to make that happen, they're looking toward another project, spending millions on restoration.

St. Joseph Community Development Director, John Hodgson says the lighthouses are iconic. "These structures are more than 100 years old, they've seen hard service in their lifetime."

That's why he is working hard to obtain-and preserve-the North Pier Lighthouses. "Lighthouses have been a part of this community's history for more than 170 years. It's on our city logo, it's on our city seal."

In 2008, the federal government made the lighthouses available to the city and St. Joseph started this process. They've now reached the final steps. City commissioners need to approve the deed, which also means they're taking responsibility for repairs. "Just repairing the iron and getting the inner coat of paint on it to prevent further deterioration," says Hodgson.

A project he says will cost 1.8 million dollars. "The repairs could be funded through local donations, they could be funded through grants, they could be funded through tax dollars such as a millage."

And St. Joseph resident Mitch Martindale says the lighthouses are worth it. "Something like this, I think is beneficial for the community so a little bit of extra tax money can be used for it, I don't think that would hurt."

His family enjoys visiting the lighthouses. "We come out here pretty often."

And he says other people do too.

"We like coming out here on either side and looking at the lighthouses, they add a  lot of character to the waterfront here," says Andy Kolesar who is visiting from Ohio.

At St. Joseph Today, director Jill Stone, says the lighthouses already bring in crowds and the repairs will only make them better. "I think it will draw more people in and I think it will re-ignite the excitement for it, not only from a tourist standpoint, but from a residential standpoint."

And lifetime resident Hodgson agrees. "The lights just are St. Joseph. This view that you see from the beach looking out at this catwalk is what makes St. Joseph special in the minds of many people. "

The final approval of the lighthouse deed will take place at Monday's commissioner meeting. Once that happens, they will decide how to pay for those repairs.

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