The St. Augustine Lighthouse Tower will get money for a restoration project in the 2021-22 budget — assuming it avoids another veto from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Since 2017, St. Augustine Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson has unsuccessfully pushed for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for preservation and repairs.
The 165-foot lighthouse, now 146 years old, is a Smithsonian affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Each year, 216,000 people visit the museum, operated by staff and 266 volunteers.
In 2021, Stevenson and Sen. Travis Hutson, also a St. Augustine Republican, are once again pushing for state money to help the lighthouse make repairs.
Stevenson’s appropriations request would provide $484,628 in nonrecurring funding for the lighthouse. About $285,000 would be used for the repairs with another $200,000 set aside to cover costs while the museum is shut down for repairs.
The House initially included half of the requested total but fully funded it in its first bump offer (Line 145). The Senate at first offered nothing for the project but on Wednesday matched the House with full funding.
The House request notes that it would be “a reimbursement project, with proof of results required in photographic and financial format prior to payment” and that money won’t be “paid if deliverables are not met.”
The project purpose description explains, “preservation of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is continuous.”
“The Museum invests some $500,000 every five or six years in restoration activities to maintain an original restoration that began in 1980 when 16 women, volunteers in the Junior Service League, turned back the bulldozers. Today, we need to re-paint the inside of the 1874, 165-foot-tall, lighthouse tower, which will turn 145 years old this October. This work has not been completed since the early 1990s,” the request notes.
It also says Ken Smith Architects of Jacksonville has reviewed and recommended the project.
Restoration money made it through the Legislature in the current year budget, though it fell victim to DeSantis’ “red wedding” of vetoes.