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April 07, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 07, 2004

POST to raise funds for lighthouse repairs POST to raise funds for lighthouse repairs (April 07, 2004)

The Pigeon Point Light Station -- the 130-year-old lighthouse located between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz -- has a new owner and it didn't cost a dime. But then the repairs to stabilize the lighthouse so tourists can visit have not yet begun.

The U.S. Coast Guard on March 22 handed off control of the decommissioned lighthouse to the California state park system. But with deficits constraining state spending, the parks system lacks the $1.5 million to $3 million needed to repair the 115-foot masonry tower so it entered a fundraising partnership with Menlo Park-based Peninsula Open Space Trust.

POST will be one of several fundraisers, including individual donors, the Coastal Conservancy and the State Parks Foundation, said POST spokeswoman Deirdre Holbrook.

The interior works of the 115-foot-tall masonry tower are in good shape, Ms. Holbrook said. The tower has a working fog horn and an antique lens that can produce a 500,000-candlepower light from an oil lamp. The original light is used once a year for lighthouse fans, Ms. Holbrook said.

The lighthouse complex includes accessory buildings that house a youth hostel, a museum and a gift shop.

The lighthouse is still active as a navigation aid, but uses a late-model rotating light. Ships are also guided by electronic navigation aids. The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2002 allows the Coast Guard to give away lighthouses it no longer needs.

Nonprofits and public agencies have first choice of ownership. A major hurdle in completing the application was filling out a thick set of forms, Ms. Holbrook said. The state park system lacked funds to hire an experienced consultant to write the application, but Bill and Jean Lane of Portola Valley stepped in with the necessary money, she said.

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