2013-06-13 / Front Page

For sale by owner

After city passes, light goes to public

The East Breakwater Lighthouse, pictured above, went up for auction on Monday. The light is being auctioned by the General Services Administration. 
Pioneer Tribune photo The East Breakwater Lighthouse, pictured above, went up for auction on Monday. The light is being auctioned by the General Services Administration. Pioneer Tribune photo MANISTIQUE – The East Breakwater Lighthouse is officially on the auction block. The General Services Administration placed the light on its “GSA Auctions” website after the city decided late last year to forgo taking control of the structure.

In mid-2012, the GSA tagged the light for “disposal” and listed on its Real Property Utilization and Disposal website. Under the stipulations of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, those eligible to obtain ownership of the light, free of charge, included the local government of the community in which the historic light station is located, nonprofit corporations, educational agency, and community development organizations.

The city council initially voted to spend approximately $2,500 to finance an engineering plan and to partner with the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy to work on the application to acquire the light. Council members later found out that it would cost almost $266,000 to bring the light up to the standards put forth by the NHLPA. Though the amount could have been broken into payments over four years, and various grants and other fundraising mechanisms used for some of the cost, the city backed out of the partnership and said it would allow the light to go up for auction to the public.

From Monday’s opening day until a date to be determined by the GSA, the auction will remain open to any bidder with enough to purchase the light. The opening bid is $5,000, and participants in the auction must bid in $1,000 increments. As of Wednesday afternoon, no bids had been made.

If purchased, the buyer is required to continue operating the structure as a light, provide the United States Coast Guard access to the light, and understand that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue ownership of the breakwall.

Marilyn Fischer, member of the Board of Directors for the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance, which oversees 129 lights across the state, said she is disappointed to see the light up for auction. She noted she had worked with city council, and tried to work with the county, to come up with a solution.

“When I called Schoolcraft County representative (commissioner) Craig Reiter about the situation, he was unaware of the light’s plight – he had not read the local newspaper for the last month,” she said. “When I asked if he would bring this to the attention of the Schoolcraft County Board (of Commissioners), he said maybe next month, we have too much on the agenda this month already.”

Fisher said no action was ever taken and the light went up for auction with no interference.

“Being president of the Gulliver Historical Society/Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse for the past 25 years … I am very concerned that the Manistique Breakwater Light has a ‘good steward’ that will take care of and restore a state historic site that has over a 100 year history with Schoolcraft County and the city of Manistique,” Fisher added.

The lighthouse can be viewed or bid on at gsaauctions.gov/ gsaauctions/aucitdsc/ and searching “Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse”.

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