Yes, Michigan's Point Betsie is still an operating lighthouse. Yes, the station is still in good condition. But, not for much longer. No matter what anybody says, and we have been criticized by some who say there is no need to worry and fret about this station, the station is in danger.
Manned until last winter, when her boiler gave out, the Coast Guard has, in effect, abandoned the Keepers Quarters. Coast Guard officials state that it will probably take three years to complete the paper work to declare the property excess. Quite frankly, by that time the keepers quarters will be in bad shape and cost ten times more to restore than it would today. And, as we all know, an empty station is also an open invitation to vandalism.
There is one easy out for this lighthouse, but, it is a two part easy out. The first part is for local preservation groups to ask the United States Coast Guard to lease the station to them, and the other part is for the Coast Guard to grant the lease. This could be done in a matter of days. There is absolutely no reason why the Coast Guard could not lease this station to a local group at once. This has been a standard, easy process for the Coast Guard.
All a local group needs to do is ask for it.
Once the local group has a lease, they could make immediate plans to preserve the station. The local group could do its fund raising and even ask for a Congressional transfer of the property. This could all take place while the Coast Guard does its required paperwork to declare the property excess.
Let's hope one of the non profit groups in Frankfurt, Michigan gets the ball rolling. It's up to them. If they don't do anything, shame on them. Remember, it's not the Coast Guard's responsibility to save and maintain historic properties. That's up to us, the people.
This story appeared in the
December 1997 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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