Iconic Lighthouse Face Lift
BY JESSICA O’BRIEN – Herald Argus – June 3, 2014
A project more than two years in the works finally began on Thursday as crews started taking the initial steps in repainting the city’s iconic lighthouse. Pro Tech Environment, a Michigan-based company, has been contracted
A project more than two years in the works finally began on Thursday as crews started taking the initial steps in repainting the city’s iconic lighthouse.
Pro Tech Environment, a Michigan-based company, has been contracted for the $160,000 project. It has been funded by the Michigan City Port Authority and the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission – each contributing 50 percent of the cost.
Mayor Ron Meer expressed his appreciation to both groups stressing how important their involvement was, not only from the funding perspective, but also assisting in months of preparation leading up to the project.
“There was a lot of permitting to go through at both the federal and state levels to get to this point,” Meer said. “But the city controls the structure now and it’s a very important symbol in our community.”
The painting is estimated to be completed in approximately six weeks, according to superintendent of the project Jay Davis. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the main symbol of the city,” Meer said of the lighthouse, describing how generations of city residents recognize the structure. “It’s very important that it be clean and maintained.”
Makeover efforts began at the top of the steel structure and will work downward with crews scraping off any peeling or bubbling paint before applying the fresh coat. Each portion of the building is wrapped in plastic while it is being scraped to prevent paint chips from flying into the lake, Davis said.
He is aiming to beat the mayor’s deadline of completion prior to the Great Lakes Grand Prix scheduled to kick off July 31. But the crews are at the mercy of Mother Nature, Davis said, adding that high winds and lightning make it impossible to do the required work.
Upon completion, the lighthouse will still be red and white, keeping the familiar appearance that residents and visitors have come to recognize.
“It’s one of the more unique lighthouses I’ve worked on,” Davis said while discussing the city’s lighthouse. Most are either square-shaped or cylinder-shaped with a light on top, he said. Michigan City’s lighthouse, however, is a hybrid – a square base and a cylindrical center portion capped off with a light.
According to Meer, it has been at least ten or 12 years since the structure was last painted. “I realized right away when I came into office that it needed to be done,” he said. “I’m thrilled that we have another accomplishment on our list of things to do.”